Texas AG Ken Paxton Acquitted on All Counts in Impeachment Trial
In a stunning turn of events, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment he faced during a rare Texas Senate impeachment trial. This decision comes after Paxton was suspended by the Texas House in May, sparking a contentious legal battle that has captured the attention of the nation.
The Impeachment Trial
The impeachment trial, conducted by a jury consisting of Texas senators, witnessed an overwhelming rejection of all 16 articles of impeachment. Not a single article received a simple majority vote in favor, let alone the supermajority of 21 votes required to convict Paxton on an impeachment article. Furthermore, the senators voted to dismiss four additional articles that had been held in abeyance.
The trial featured closing arguments from both the prosecution and Paxton’s defense team. Rep. Andrew Murr, who led the House impeachment managers’ investigation, delivered short remarks before the defense’s turn. He criticized Paxton’s absence from the chamber during most of the trial, highlighting that Paxton attended only a few hours on day one and returned for closing arguments nearly two weeks later.
The 16 articles of impeachment centered around allegations that Paxton had abused his office through an improper relationship with campaign donor and real estate investor, Natin “Nate” Paul. Both Paxton and Paul vehemently denied any wrongdoing in this regard. However, it’s worth noting that Paul himself faces eight felony counts unrelated to the allegations involving Paxton, relating to false statements made to secure business loans.
Throughout the trial, Paxton and his defense team consistently denounced the proceedings as a “sham,” while also denying accusations of bribery. The defense argued that the prosecution failed to provide impeachable evidence and categorized the allegations into three main areas: campaign donation, house renovations, and a job allegedly procured for someone with whom Paxton was rumored to have had an affair.
Tony Buzbee, one of Paxton’s attorneys, vehemently defended his client, stating that if campaign donations were considered bribes, many individuals would be subject to impeachment. He also downplayed the alleged affair, suggesting that if marital impropriety were the basis for impeachment, it would set a precedent for widespread impeachments.
Buzbee went even further in his closing remarks, accusing the Biden administration, FBI, and Department of Justice of having political motives against Paxton. He also referred to the whistleblowers who testified during the trial as “so-called whistleblowers, which are nothing but disgruntled ex-staffers.”
Dan Cogdell, another member of Paxton’s defense team, criticized the case against Paxton, emphasizing that some of the best lawyers in Texas could not find enough evidence to prove these allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Prosecution’s Plea
On the other side, Rep. Jeff Leach, representing the prosecution, appealed to the jury’s sense of duty. He emphasized that the trial had attracted significant attention and that the jurors should consider this the most important choice they’ve faced in a century.
Leach acknowledged that the decision was not about hating Ken Paxton but rather about upholding the law. He recognized the whistleblowers in the room, praising their courage for speaking out despite the potential consequences.
In closing, Leach implored the jury not to consider what is safe, popular, or political but to focus on what is right. He stated that, painful as it might be, the evidence presented warranted a vote to sustain the articles of impeachment.
The Verdict and Future
While the duration of deliberations remained uncertain, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, presiding judge over the trial, emphasized that the public viewed this trial as “like 16 trials in one” due to the numerous articles of impeachment involved. The decision, which could have significant ramifications in Texas politics, awaited the senators’ final deliberations and public votes.
In a surprising turn of events, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been acquitted on all counts in his impeachment trial. The rejection of all 16 articles of impeachment, along with the dismissal of four additional articles, underscores the complexity and divisiveness of the case.
The trial, which saw impassioned arguments from both the prosecution and Paxton’s defense team, focused on allegations of Paxton’s improper relationship with a campaign donor and real estate investor, Natin “Nate” Paul. Despite the gravity of the accusations, Paxton and Paul consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The defense vehemently argued that the prosecution failed to provide impeachable evidence, highlighting the alleged affair and campaign donations as insufficient grounds for impeachment. They also accused the Biden administration, FBI, and Department of Justice of having political motives against Paxton.
On the prosecution’s side, Rep. Jeff Leach appealed to the jury’s sense of duty, emphasizing the importance of upholding the law and recognizing the whistleblowers who testified during the trial. He urged the jury not to consider what is safe or popular but to focus on what is right.
The final verdict and its implications for Texas politics remain uncertain, but this trial has undoubtedly been a significant and polarizing event. It will be interesting to see how the outcome shapes the future of Texas politics and the careers of those involved.