Senate Deliberations Begin in Ken Paxton's Texas Impeachment Trial

14:23 15.09.2023

The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton commenced on Friday morning in the Texas Senate. If convicted on any of the 16 articles of impeachment, Paxton could be removed from office. The jurors, comprised of 30 state senators, were instructed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to remain sequestered and refrain from discussing the trial or watching news coverage. In the event that a verdict is not reached by Sunday evening, Patrick stated that he would consider sequestering the senators. The articles of impeachment against Paxton include charges of bribery and abuse of public trust. Paxton, who pleaded not guilty, has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

The Texas Senate, with a Republican majority of 19-12, requires a two-thirds majority, or 21 votes, to convict Paxton on any of the charges. Interestingly, Paxton's wife, State Sen. Angela Paxton, is barred from voting or participating in deliberations but still counts toward the necessary votes for conviction. This means that the state still needs to secure 21 votes for a conviction. Paxton's defense team has sought to dismiss the impeachment vote as a politically motivated "witch hunt" and a partisan fight within the GOP against Paxton, who is a close ally of former President Donald Trump.

The impeachment trial has been marked by dramatic testimony from former top aides of Paxton. The conservative Republican aides expressed their concerns about Paxton's relationship with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who is facing separate indictments. These former aides alleged that Paxton influenced his employees to engage in legal disputes that would benefit Paul and his business. In return, they claimed that Paul provided extensive favors to Paxton, including home renovations and the employment of a woman with whom Paxton was allegedly having an affair.

Paxton's defense team has argued that the impeachment is merely an attempt by political opponents within the state House and his former aides to settle scores. They accused the Bush family, particularly George P. Bush, who ran against Paxton in 2022, of fabricating the impeachment allegations. In response, House impeachment manager Jeff Leach countered that while Paxton had been a "dear friend and political mentor," the people of Texas deserved answers regarding the allegations against him.

The impeachment trial has also touched on Paxton's alleged affair and its impact on his office. Former top aide Jeff Mateer testified that the affair was relevant to the allegations against Paxton, as it shed light on his motivations and actions. The defense team, however, tried to separate the affair allegations from the articles of impeachment. Paxton's former chief of staff, Katherine Missy Cary, testified about the ethical implications and risks associated with the alleged affair, expressing concerns about bribery and misuse of office.

Paxton's impeachment trial is separate from the criminal charges he has been facing since 2015. He was indicted on two first-degree felony charges of securities fraud and a third-degree felony charge of failure to register. Despite pleading not guilty, Paxton has managed to delay the trial in that case while he remains in office. The outcome of the impeachment trial will not affect the criminal charges against Paxton, and a separate trial for those charges is still pending.

If convicted in the impeachment trial, the Senate will likely hold a separate vote to determine whether Paxton should be barred from holding office in the future. Only two Texas statewide officials have ever been removed from office after a conviction: Gov. James Ferguson in 1917 and District Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975. Thus, Paxton's impeachment trial holds significant implications for the state's political landscape and the future of the attorney general's office.

/ Friday, September 15, 2023, 2:23 PM /

themes:  Donald Trump  Texas

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