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Texas AG Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial is over. Here’s what led to his acquittal and what’s next

by Joshua Brown
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Impeachment Acquittal

The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has concluded, resulting in his acquittal by the GOP-dominated Texas Senate. This decision has reinstated him to his position without apparent political damage, following a two-week trial centered on allegations of corruption.

The impeachment charges revolved around claims that Paxton misused the powers of his office to protect a real estate developer named Nate Paul, who faced federal charges of making false statements to banks. The trial, marked by closing arguments from House managers prosecuting Paxton and the defense team, was characterized by strong words from both sides.

State Rep. Andrew Murr, a Republican, expressed his disappointment, stating, “We discovered unprecedented abuse in the Texas attorney general’s office by Mr. Paxton. He has betrayed us, and the people of Texas.” In response, Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, vehemently defended his client, referring to the impeachment as a “political witch hunt.”

The jury, consisting mostly of Republican senators, deliberated for about eight hours before voting to acquit Paxton on all 16 articles of impeachment.

The trial featured extensive presentations of evidence from both sides. The House managers focused on building a case of corruption, relying on former Paxton aides who raised concerns about Paxton’s relationship with Nate Paul and his extramarital affair with Laura Olson. They detailed Paxton’s efforts to assist Paul, including discussions about kitchen countertops in Paxton’s home renovation project and suspicions of wrongdoing. Defense attorneys called current employees who testified in support of Paxton.

Notably, Laura Olson, a central figure in the bribery charge, did not have to testify. Her absence prevented a potentially dramatic moment in the trial.

Angela Paxton, Ken Paxton’s wife and a state senator, was barred from participating in the deliberations due to her conflict of interest. A conviction would have required a two-thirds majority vote of 21 out of the 31 senators present, but it fell short.

With his acquittal, Ken Paxton’s political career remains intact. He is known for supporting Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and filing lawsuits against the Biden administration. However, he still faces significant legal challenges, including an ongoing federal investigation, a disciplinary proceeding related to his election efforts, and felony securities fraud charges dating back to 2015.

Paxton’s impeachment has caused divisions within the Texas Republican Party, with a Republican-majority House voting for his impeachment while Republican House managers led the prosecution. His impeachment is a rare event in Texas history, marking only the third such case in nearly two centuries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Impeachment Acquittal

What were the allegations against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the impeachment trial?

The allegations in the impeachment trial centered on accusations that Ken Paxton improperly used the powers of his office to protect Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who was indicted on federal charges of making false statements to banks.

What was the outcome of the impeachment trial?

The GOP-dominated Texas Senate acquitted Ken Paxton, resulting in his reinstatement to the position of Texas Attorney General. He faced no political damage after the trial.

How did the House managers build their case against Paxton?

The House managers presented evidence over two weeks, including testimonies from former Paxton aides who were suspicious of Paxton’s business relationship with Nate Paul and his extramarital affair with Laura Olson. They also detailed concerns about Paxton’s efforts to assist Paul and raised questions about financial transactions.

How did Ken Paxton’s defense team respond to the allegations?

Paxton’s defense team argued that the House had not proven its case and labeled the impeachment as a “political witch hunt.” They called current employees who testified in support of Paxton’s innocence.

What legal challenges does Ken Paxton still face?

Despite his acquittal, Ken Paxton still faces an ongoing federal investigation related to the allegations that led to his impeachment. Additionally, he is involved in a disciplinary proceeding over his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and he faces felony securities fraud charges dating back to 2015.

How did the impeachment impact the Texas Republican Party?

Ken Paxton’s impeachment created divisions within the Texas Republican Party. While a Republican-majority House voted for his impeachment, mostly Republican House managers led the prosecution, highlighting internal disagreements within the party.

Has there been a similar impeachment in Texas history?

Ken Paxton’s impeachment is a rare event in Texas history. He is only the third state official to be impeached in Texas’ nearly 200-year history, and the first statewide officeholder to face impeachment since 1917.

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