Texas AG Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial is in the hands of Republicans who have been by his side

by Ryan Lee
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Impeachment trial

The impending impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is poised to challenge the resolve of Republican senators who have stood by his side. The trial is set to commence in the state Senate and represents a formidable test for Republican senators, as they grapple with the decision to remove one of their own members from office. Ken Paxton, a prominent figure in Texas politics, has been entangled in a series of controversies and criminal charges over the past nine years, including allegations of corruption and scandal. If found guilty, Paxton could face removal from his position, a significant outcome given that only two officials in Texas’ nearly two-century history have been impeached.

The trial is expected to feature witnesses such as Paxton himself and a woman with whom he admitted to having an extramarital affair. The public seeking to observe the proceedings from the gallery will need passes, while conservative activists have already taken steps to apply pressure on senators through TV airtime and billboards. This situation underscores the gravity of the trial while simultaneously transforming it into a noteworthy spectacle.

The events leading up to the trial have exposed divisions within Texas Republicans, mirroring the broader schisms affecting the national party in the lead-up to the 2024 election. Noteworthy policy points in recent Texas politics involve stringent measures to address immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, debates over educational curriculum in public schools, and limitations on LGBTQ+ rights. Many of these issues are vociferously championed by Republican senators, who hold a commanding 19-12 majority and hold the fate of Paxton in their hands.

The Senate has traditionally been a favorable environment for Paxton, who was previously a state senator before assuming the role of attorney general in 2015. Paxton’s ties to the Senate include his wife, Angela, who is a state senator, although she is precluded from voting in the trial. Notably, Paxton maintains connections within the chamber, including with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is set to oversee the trial and had provided financial support to Paxton’s reelection campaign.

Should all 12 Democrats in the Senate vote in favor of Paxton’s conviction, they would still require the support of at least nine Republican counterparts. Alternatively, the Senate could opt for a simple majority vote to dismiss the charges altogether. It’s noteworthy that a predominantly Republican House had overwhelmingly determined Paxton’s impeachment.

The trial has also heightened Paxton’s legal vulnerabilities. The case primarily revolves around his association with Nate Paul, an Austin-based real estate developer who faced indictment for allegedly providing false statements to secure substantial loans. Recent developments indicate that federal prosecutors in Washington have escalated their investigation of Paxton’s dealings with Paul, employing a grand jury in San Antonio for this purpose.

Chris Toth, a former executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General, noted that Paxton has weathered unique scandals among top state attorneys. The trial’s outcome is expected to convey a broader message regarding the conduct deemed acceptable for elected officials across the nation.

In preparation for the trial, impeachment managers within the GOP-controlled Texas House submitted nearly 4,000 pages of exhibits, which included allegations of Paxton’s use of multiple cellphones and his indulgence in various office-related privileges. Chris Toth expressed concern over the influential sway that Paxton seems to exert despite his controversial behavior.

A key factor in Paxton’s enduring political resilience is his alignment with former President Donald Trump. This alignment was especially evident when Paxton joined efforts to challenge the outcome of the 2020 election. Like Trump, Paxton claims to be a target of politically motivated investigations.

James Dickey, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, observed that Republican voters perceive Paxton’s impeachment differently from the legal issues facing Trump. The partisan context surrounding actions against Trump contributes to the heightened concern and frustration among Republican voters.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick clarified in a recent television interview that the trial is neither a criminal nor civil trial, but rather a political trial. This distinction underscores the unique nature of the proceedings.

Reported by Bleiberg from Dallas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Impeachment trial

What is the focus of the impeachment trial involving Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton?

The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton centers around allegations of corruption, criminal charges, and scandals that have marked his nine-year tenure.

What potential outcomes could arise from this impeachment trial?

If convicted, Ken Paxton could face removal from his position as Texas Attorney General, making him only the third official in the state’s nearly 200-year history to be impeached.

Who are some of the key figures expected to be involved in the trial?

Witnesses anticipated to testify include Ken Paxton himself and a woman with whom he acknowledged having an extramarital affair.

How are conservative activists influencing the impeachment trial?

Conservative activists are actively using TV airtime and billboards to exert pressure on Republican senators, urging them to acquit Ken Paxton, who is recognized as one of former President Donald Trump’s staunch supporters.

What divisions have arisen within Texas Republicans due to this trial?

The impending trial has exposed divisions among Texas Republicans, reflecting broader national party tensions ahead of the 2024 election. Key policy issues include immigration, education, and LGBTQ+ rights.

What role does the Senate play in this trial?

The Republican-controlled Senate holds the power to decide Ken Paxton’s fate. With a dominant 19-12 majority, the Senate’s decision will significantly impact the outcome of the impeachment trial.

How has Ken Paxton’s connection with former President Donald Trump affected the trial?

Ken Paxton’s alignment with former President Donald Trump has shaped his political resilience. Paxton joined efforts to challenge the 2020 election outcome, claiming he is a victim of politically motivated investigations.

What message does the trial’s outcome convey to elected officials?

The trial’s verdict will send a broader message about the acceptability of conduct among elected officials across the country. Chris Toth, a former executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General, emphasized this significance.

What significance does the trial hold for the Republican Party?

The trial’s impact goes beyond Paxton’s individual case, potentially influencing the leadership and direction of the Republican Party in the long term, as noted by Republican political consultant Matt Langston.

How is this trial distinct from other legal challenges?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick clarified that the trial is neither a criminal nor civil trial but a political trial. This distinction underscores the unique nature of the proceedings and their implications.

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