Trump backs challenger to Texas Speaker, citing Paxton impeachment effort

Trump backs challenger to Texas Speaker, citing Paxton impeachment effort

Former President Trump on Tuesday endorsed a primary challenger to Texas state House Speaker Dade Phelan’s (R) reelection bid, citing Phelan’s role in the “fraudulent” failed impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R).

In the months surrounding Paxton’s impeachment, Trump fiercely defended the state’s attorney general and attacked Phelan, who was among the 60 of 85 total Republicans in the House to vote to impeach Paxton in May 2023. The state Senate, however, later voted to acquit.

“David Covey is running against Dade Phelan, the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, who led the Fraudulent Impeachment of the recently re-elected, in a landslide, Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton,” Trump wrote Tuesday on social media.

“David is an America First Conservative who will Secure the Border, Restore Election Integrity, Protect our Families and Military/Vets, and Defend our under siege Second Amendment,” he continued.

The endorsement of Covey comes just days after Phelan announced his support for Trump’s bid for the White House.

In his social media post, Trump quoted Phelan’s endorsement of him in a CBS News interview last week but said Phelan’s support was not enough to win Trump’s endorsement.

“Words, however, do not mitigate the Absolute Embarrassment Speaker Phelan inflicted upon the State of Texas and our Great Republican Party! Therefore, David Covey has my Complete and Total Endorsement for Texas’ 21st State House District — He will never let you down!” the former president said.

Paxton has been accused of using his office for the benefit of friends and political donors — and of firing his deputies who reported it. The allegations surfaced as a result of a months-long investigation conducted by four former state prosecutors and commissioned by the Republican-led House.

The whistleblowers have also brought a lawsuit against Paxton, and he is fighting to avoid testifying it in.

Phelan has stood by his decision to impeach. Following the acquittal, he said in a statement that it was “unfortunate” that the impeachment effort returned the state attorney general’s office “to an individual who, I believe, clearly abused his power, compromised his agency and its employees, and moved mountains to protect and benefit himself.”

On Monday, Matt Rinaldi, the head of the Texas Republican Party, announced his support for Trump’s presidential campaign. He also endorsed Covey’s primary challenge.

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