A jury of state senators voted to acquit Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on all 16 articles of impeachment he faced during his historic trial.
None of the articles of impeachment received the 21 votes needed to convict Paxton, meaning the Lone Star State’s top law enforcement official — who had been suspended from his post since the House l indicted in May – will be reinstated in office.
A conviction on even one of the articles would have resulted in Paxton’s ouster.
Paxton had been accused of abusing his position for the benefit of a real estate developer, Nate Paul, his friend and campaign donor. House impeachment managers called several former Paxton aides to testify about their concerns about the attorney general’s relationship with Paul, while the defense called current AG employees to counter that narrative.
The decision comes after eight days of testimony and another day of closing arguments. Jurors deliberated in private until Friday evening and reconvened Saturday to vote on each article in public in the Senate, without debate.
No more than 14 state senators voted to condemn any of the 16 articles under review, with only two of the 19 Republican senators — Kelly Hancock and Robert Nichols — joining Democrats in condemning some of the counts.
When the Republican-majority House impeached Paxton in May, the vote was 121-31.
Unlike a normal jury, senators did not have to make a group decision, but each decided the articles in what presiding Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called “like 16 trials in one.”
Paxton’s wife, State Senator Angela Paxton, was not eligible to vote during her husband’s impeachment, but was present throughout the impeachment proceedings as witnesses rode to the stand to discuss her husband’s relationship with Paul and his alleged extramarital affair.
State Rep. Jeff Leach (R), one of the House impeachment managers, said during closing that “there comes a time for each of us… not to wonder what is safe, or popular, or political, but what is right.” and implored jurors to support the articles of impeachment.
But Paxton’s defense attorney, Tony Buzbee, said in his argument that the case was being framed as a “political witch hunt” against Paxton.
“What is this matter about?” It’s not about anything,” Buzbee said.
“They thought this man would run and hide,” Buzbee said, pointing to Paxton. “They thought Attorney General Ken Paxton would resign. Well guess what? He did not resign. He is proud and ready to return to work. And once this is over, I hope he returns to work.
After the votes, Patrick said he had remained silent during the trial but wanted to “set the record straight on this trial” and later hit the House of Representatives for its handling of the impeachment, arguing that lawmakers “rammed” the bill through. case.
“With all due respect to the House, we did not need to be told in closing arguments how important this vote was… Our members already knew that and have known it for three months. If only the House members who voted for impeachment had followed that instruction in the House, we might not be here,” Patrick said.
He said he plans to ask the House for a full audit of the costs to Texas taxpayers of the impeachment process.
“Our founders expected better,” Patrick said, adding that the impeachment “should never have happened this year.” And I hope it doesn’t happen again, unless we fix this problem in the Constitution.”
The Republican Party of Texas said in a statement After the acquittal, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) and his leadership team “should be embarrassed that they have put Texas through the time and expense of this impeachment political sham.”
— Updated at 2:34 p.m.
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