Suspended Texas Attorney General was acquitted of 16 impeachment articles over allegations he employed his mistress and helped protect a real-estate developer.
On Saturday, Ken Paxton was acquitted on the charges that will allow him to return to work.
‘The jury has spoken,’ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said after the verdicts. ‘Attorney General Paxton received a fair trial as required by the Texas Constitution. … I look forward to continuing to work with him to secure the border and protect Texas from federal overreach.’
The Republican was accused of using his powerful office to help shield Austin-based real estate developer Nate Paul, who was indicted in June on false statements charges and is under an FBI investigation.
Paul employed Laura Olson, the woman who allegedly had an affair with the married Paxton and whose testimony was dramatically canceled moments before she was set to take the stand.
Paul also once gave Paxton a $25,000 campaign contribution.
Suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sits between his attorneys on the ninth day of the impeachment trial
Paul employed Laura Olson (above), the woman who allegedly had an affair with the married Paxton and whose testimony was dramatically canceled moments before she was was set to take the stand
A bailiff collects a vote from a Senator in the Texas Senate on September 16. Attorney General Paxton was acquitted on 16 impeachment articles
Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, attended the trial this week, but the Senate decided she was barred from voting to help determine her husband’s fate.
Six former Paxton employees testified against their boss during the trial.
A conviction requires a two-thirds majority, or 21 votes, of the 31 members present. Anything short of that means acquittal.
The closes vote on one of the articles as 14 to 16, with two Republican Senators breaking rank to vote with the 12 Democrats in the Senate.
Other votes were much further apart, including a 2-28 vote on allegations Paxton gave Paul confidential law enforcement documents.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick served as judge during the trial and ripped the impeachment effort after the verdicts. He targeted the state’s House and called for changes in the law that allowed the case to happen.
‘Our founders expected better,’ Patrick said. ‘It should have never happened this year, and hopefully it doesn’t again, unless we address this in the Constitution.’
The Republican was accused of using his powerful office to help shield Austin-based real estate developer Nate Paul, who was indicted in June on false statements charges
State Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney blows kisses in the direction of the gallery before the impeachment trial for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, her husband
It just one of the stunning moments of the trial, former Paxton chief of staff Katherine Cary testified about the toll Paxton’s alleged affair took on the AG’s staff.
‘I told General Paxton quite bluntly it wasn’t my business who he was sleeping with, but when things bleed over into the office and into the state work, it becomes my business,’ she testified this week.
‘Just because somebody has an affair doesn’t mean they’re a — quote — ‘criminal’ does it?’ Paxton lawyer Tony Buzbee asked in response to her testimony.
‘Imagine if we impeached everyone in Austin who had an affair,’ Buzbee added. ‘We’d be impeaching people for the next 100 years.’
Trump this week accused ‘establishment RINOS’ of trying to ‘undo that Election with a shameful impeachment,’ and blasted the case that the state’s Republican House brought against his ally.
Paxton’s chief of staff Katherine Cary testified about the toll Paxton’s alleged affair took on the AG’s staff
‘Who would replace Paxton, one of the TOUGHEST & BEST Attorney Generals in the Country?’ Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform. ‘Could it be a Democrat, or even worse, a RINO? The voters have decided who they want! Democrats are feeling very good right now as they watch, as usual, the Republicans fight & eat away at each other. It’s a SAD day in the Great State of Texas!’
Senators began deliberations Friday after closing arguments from the bipartisan group of House managers prosecuting Paxton and the attorney general’s defense lawyers.
‘We discovered unprecedented abuse in the Texas attorney general’s office by Mr. Paxton,’ said state Rep. Andrew Murr, a Republican. ‘He has betrayed us, and the people of Texas.’
In a fiery defense, Paxton attorney Tony Buzbee insisted the House had not proved their case and called the impeachment a ‘political witch hunt.’
‘There is shame here, and the shame sits right there’ Buzbee said, pointing at the prosecution table. ‘That they would bring this case, in this chamber, with no evidence.’
A look at what has happened so far and what comes next:
House Republican impeachment managers and Paxton’s defense team were each given 24 hours over the last two weeks to present evidence.
The House managers spent their time trying to lay out their corruption case methodically.
An initial witness list of more than 100 names was whittled down to about 20.
Most were former Paxton aides who were suspicious of his business relationship with Paul and his romantic one with Laura Olson, who worked for Paul.
They detailed their concerns about Paxton’s efforts to help Paul, burner phones and arguments over who paid for kitchen countertops in Paxton’s home renovation project.
They told of taking their concerns to the FBI and how Paxton’s extramarital affair might explain why Paxton seemed so determined to help Paul fend of the federal investigation that would eventually lead to Paul’s indictment on fraud charges.
‘I witnessed Attorney General Ken Paxton do brazen things on behalf of Nate Paul. He abused the entire office of the attorney general of Texas to benefit Nate Paul,’ former Deputy Attorney General Blake Brickman said, ‘and it got worse and worse and worse.’
Defense attorneys called four of Paxton’s current employees who testified they have seen Paxton do nothing wrong and are proud to work for him.
The dramatic moment the trial did not get: testimony from Olson. The relationship was considered central to the bribery charge. Olson came to the Capitol on Wednesday and was called as a witness, but ultimately did not have to take the stand.
Olson’s exit deflated a potentially dramatic afternoon as she didn’t have to face televised, public questioning about the relationship as Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, sat in the room.
Ken Paxton returned to the trial Friday for the first time since the opening day and listened to the closing arguments. He was not required to attend the proceedings.
THE SENATE JURY
The Texas Constitution set the 31-member Senate as the impeachment trial jury; all were required to attend.
Thirty determined Ken Paxton’s fate.
Angela Paxton was barred from voting or participating in deliberations because of her conflict of interest as the attorney general’s wife.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, seated center, talks to prosecution and defense attorneys after the prosecution rested in the impeachment trial
Sen. Angela Paxton was not allowed to vote in the trial, but did attend the sessions to hear the testimony
Early votes on the trial’s first day did not go Paxton’s way. His attempts to dismiss all charges before the evidence was heard were rejected, with most carrying the 21-vote margin.
But those early votes also showed Paxton had the support of at least six Republicans, who could be pushing others to join them.
Paxton has become a darling among conservatives nationally as he backed Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory and filed numerous lawsuits against the Biden administration.
Like Trump, Paxton has claimed he was the victim of a politically motivated investigation.
His defense attorneys have even suggested a Republican plot to oust him.
Paxton’s impeachment has fractured the Texas Republican Party. A Republican-majority House voted overwhelmingly to impeach him, while mostly Republican House managers led the prosecution.
Paxton is just the third state official to be impeached in Texas’ nearly 200-year history, and the first statewide officeholder since former Gov. James ‘Pa’ Ferguson in 1917, who resigned the day before he was convicted.