Elie Mystal: Why Ken Paxton’s impeachment makes a strong case for Dianne Feinstein’s resignation

Elie Mystal: Why Ken Paxton’s impeachment makes a strong case for Dianne Feinstein’s resignation

The impeachment of three-term Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has set off a major civil war among Lone Star Republicans. One on side are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other Paxton defenders; on the other side are scathing critics like Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a conservative Republican who pushed for the impeachment and believes that Paxton has become a liability for his party.

In the Texas House of Representatives — where Republicans have a majority — Paxton was recently indicted, 121-23, on 20 articles of impeachment. Paxton's impeachment trial in the Texas State Senate is forthcoming, with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presiding.

Outside of Texas, former President Donald Trump and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) have rushed to Paxton's defense.

READ MORE: Ken Paxton impeachment fight exposes deep fissures among Texas GOP

In an article published by The Nation on May 31, liberal/progressive legal expert Elie Mystal uses Paxton's impeachment to call for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) to retire. Mystal is not saying that far-right Paxton and liberal Feinstein are in any way comparable politically; he obviously respects Feinstein and has nothing good to say about Paxton.

Rather, his point is that if Texas House Republicans can impeach Paxton because they believe he is hurting the GOP, Feinstein's staff can push for her resignation for the good of her party.

"For wildly different reasons," Mystal emphasizes, "both Paxton and Feinstein are unfit for their elected offices. Paxton is unfit because he's a corrupt-o-fascist who couldn't even find a benefactor wealthy enough to own a superyacht. Feinstein is unfit because she's not compos mentis — which I believe is Latin for 'let's just make sure she's comfortable' — and has been unable to participate in basic Senate business for several months."

Mystal adds, "To be clear, there's no moral equivalency here. Feinstein is a dedicated public servant who got very old and very incapacitated; Paxton is a power-hungry repeat bad actor who got caught. But operationally, neither person should have the jobs that they do. Paxton's staff knew it, and I promise you Feinstein's staff knows it too."

READ MORE: Concerned colleagues say Dianne Feinstein 'shockingly diminished' upon return to Senate: report

Feinstein, now 89, has been a giant in California politics, spending a decade as mayor of San Francisco before being elected to the U.S. Senate in the early 1990s. But Feinstein's health challenges, many Democrats argue, are holding up the Senate Judiciary Committee's work and preventing President Joe Biden's judicial nominations from advancing.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) believes that asking Feinstein to resign is sexist. But Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) disagree.

"It hurts my soul to write this," Mystal says, "but the group of people who showed up to work for the sniveling, corrupt Republican attorney general of Texas showed more respect for the norms of democratic self-government than the people who show up to work for the senior Democratic senator from California. The bottom line is that Ken Paxton would not have been impeached but for the willingness of people who worked for him to go public with the truth. Dianne Feinstein will not be replaced until the people who work for her are willing to do the same thing."

READ MORE: Tensions between Ken Paxton and Republican Texas House speaker reach boiling point

Elie Mystal's full article for The Nation is available at this link.

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