AUSTIN, Texas – In a stunning turn of events, Attorney General Ken Paxton has been acquitted on all impeachment articles by the Texas Senate. The conclusion of the trial came after approximately two weeks of intense testimony and was marked by impassioned closing arguments from both the house prosecutors and Paxton’s defense team.
The deliberations began on Friday morning, with state senators weighing whether Paxton should be permanently removed from office or allowed to return from his suspension. At least 21 votes were required to uphold any of the impeachment articles, and ultimately, none met that threshold.
Throughout the trial, Paxton’s presence had been sporadic, with him only attending the first day. However, on the final day, he made a return to the Texas Senate Chamber, sitting alongside his legal team. State representative Andrew Murr, the lead house manager in the impeachment prosecution, used his closing argument to emphasize the importance of holding public officials accountable for their actions.
“The Constitution charges us with policing our own,” Murr stated. “If we don’t keep public officials from abusing the capacity of their offices, then, frankly, no one can.”
Paxton had been suspended from his position since being impeached by the House on 20 articles of impeachment. The Senate focused on 16 of those articles, which included allegations of abuse of office, conspiracy, and bribery. The case originated from a whistleblower complaint filed by former staff members who accused Paxton of providing improper assistance to political donor Nate Paul, who is currently facing charges related to a multimillion dollar bank fraud scheme.
During his closing argument, Murr highlighted the detrimental impact of Paxton’s actions on the attorney general’s office. “The travesty is that Mr. Paxton’s desire to deliver results for Nate Paul eventually tore the office apart,” Murr asserted. “He repeatedly demanded that his top deputies act as Nate Paul’s personal lawyers and not the state’s lawyers. He gave the keys to the office.”
However, defense attorneys vehemently denied the allegations, with attorney Tony Buzbee delivering a scathing denouncement. “There is shame here,” Buzbee declared. “And the shame sits right there that they would bring this case in this chamber with no evidence.” Buzbee acknowledged that Paxton had indeed helped a friend but argued that it was due to suspicions of wrongdoing by federal and state authorities investigating Nate Paul.
Buzbee dismissed the accusations as baseless assumptions and criticized the lack of substantial evidence presented during the trial. “What we have seen instead is a bunch of supposition: mights, maybes, could have beens. That’s what we’ve seen in this trial,” he contended.
With the Senate’s acquittal, Paxton’s future as Attorney General of Texas remains uncertain. The decision has sparked intense debate and raised questions about the accountability of public officials. As the dust settles, the implications of this trial will undoubtedly continue to reverberate throughout the state and beyond.