Impeachable Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted Saturday of 16 articles of impeachment, thwarting a effort to eliminate it from office over corruption allegations.
“Attorney General Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr. is hereby restored to office at this time,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the Republican Senate president who also presided over the trial.
While two Republican senators broke with their party to vote in favor of conviction on some articles of impeachment, the vast majority of Paxton’s party voted in favor of his acquittal after a two-week trial and a day of closed-door deliberations. Four articles of impeachment that had been put on hold during the trial were dismissed immediately after the acquittal vote.
Paxton had been suspended without pay from his position after he was impeached in May by the Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote.
“The attorney general is excited and ready to get back to work, and that’s what he’s going to do,” said Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee.
Paxton rose to prominence as a leading legal adversary of former President Barack Obama’s administration and later as a key ally of former President Donald Trump’s administration. Lawsuits to repeal the Affordable Care Act, legal protections for young undocumented immigrants and the 2020 election results made him a popular force on the right, even after he was charged with securities fraud in 2015. .
But Paxton’s political support fractured this year when the state House impeached him on allegations of abuse of power and bribery.
While House Republicans enjoyed an element of surprise — the investigation into Paxton was conducted largely in secret before House leaders went public and quickly called for a vote — senators faced months of pressure politics before trial.
In remarks after the verdict, Patrick lashed out at the House for rushing Paxton’s impeachment process in that chamber and called for a constitutional amendment to rework the impeachment process.
Patrick presided over the trial as a judge and said he had remained virtually silent all summer in order to do so, but did not hold back his opinion once the verdict was issued.
“Our founders expected something better. It should never have happened this year and I hope it never happens again,” he said of the impeachment.
In a statement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said Paxton had received a fair trial.
“The jury has spoken,” he said. “Attorney General Paxton has done an outstanding job representing Texas, especially pushing back against the Biden administration. “I look forward to continuing to work with him to secure the border and protect Texas from federal overreach.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, posted a similar opinion. answer on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “This was the right result, consistent with the will of the voters,” she said.
Paxton’s allies promised that Republicans who voted against the attorney general would have well-funded primary challengers, while Trump made it clear he was backing Paxton.
The articles of impeachment accused Paxton of accepting bribes and providing legal assistance to campaign donor and developer Nate Paul, in disregard of his official duties to the people of Texas. He was accused of improperly firing employees who reported his actions to federal authorities, lying about his actions, embezzling government funds to challenge his allegations, and more.
The Senate agreed to consider evidence on 16 items at trial, and four items related to his 2015 criminal indictment were put on hold.
Paxton denied any wrongdoing throughout the trial and his attorneys defended him fiercely. They insisted that Paxton had not accepted bribes and that Paul was simply an angry, entitled individual who had received nothing of value from Paxton.
The senators-turned-jurors heard testimony from seven former Paxton aides who detailed months of concern and alarm they felt about Paxton’s relationships with Paul, and his eventual decision to take the extraordinary step of reporting his boss to the FBI.
“I went to the FBI because, based on my experience over the previous nine months, I believed that the attorney general had abandoned his obligation to work on behalf of the interests of the people of Texas, to serve the interests of one person, Nate Paul,” said Ryan Bangert, Paxton’s former top aide, in sworn testimony last week.