Texas AG Ken Paxton Cleared of Corruption Charges in Impeachment Trial

21:06 16.09.2023

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, has been acquitted of all charges at a historic impeachment trial. The nine-day trial, which centered on allegations of misconduct, bribery, and corruption, revealed divisions within the Republican Party. The verdict, a 16 to 14 vote in favor of acquittal, was a significant victory for Texas' hard right and a blow to those seeking to remove Paxton from office.

Senate Republicans, including Paxton's wife, State Senator Angela Paxton, fully cleared him of all charges. Mrs. Paxton, although not allowed to vote, attended every day of the two-week trial. Ken Paxton, on the other hand, was absent for most of the proceedings and did not attend the reading of the verdict. The conclusion of Texas' first impeachment trial in nearly 50 years saw most of the votes fall along party lines, with only two Republican senators voting to convict Paxton on some charges.

The acquittal reaffirms Paxton's durability in Texas, the country's biggest red state, and delivers a broader victory for the hard right in the face of a divided GOP. The trial exposed fractures within the party and highlighted the challenges Republicans may face heading into the 2024 elections.

While the acquittal allows Paxton to reclaim his role as Texas' top lawyer, it does not end his legal troubles. He still faces trial on felony securities fraud charges, remains under FBI investigation, and risks losing his ability to practice law in Texas due to his baseless attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

The jury, consisting of 30 senators, spent about eight hours deliberating before reaching their verdict. In the Senate gallery, three of Paxton's former deputies, who reported him to the FBI in 2020 and were key witnesses during the trial, watched the proceedings. One of them left before the verdict was announced, sensing which way the votes were going.

The trial forced Texas Republicans to confront the question of whether Paxton should be removed from office over allegations of abusing his position to protect a political donor under FBI investigation. It was a defining test of Paxton's political durability after years of scandal and criminal charges. Throughout his three terms in office, Paxton has gained national attention for his involvement in polarizing legal battles across the United States, earning praise from Trump and the hard right of the GOP.

Impeachment managers made a final plea to convict Paxton, portraying him as a corrupt official who needed to be held accountable. In his closing arguments, Republican state Representative Andrew Murr, who played a leading role in the impeachment, emphasized the importance of preventing public officials from abusing their powers.

Paxton's defense attorney, Tony Buzbee, launched a fiery and defiant rebuttal. He attacked a range of figures, both inside and outside the Texas Capitol, and accused the impeachment of being a politically motivated witch hunt orchestrated by GOP rivals. Buzbee singled out George P. Bush, who challenged Paxton in the 2022 Republican primary, and criticized the integrity of FBI agents and Texas' political dynasty.

The case against Paxton revolved around allegations that he misused his office to aid a donor, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who was indicted on charges of making false statements to banks. Eight of Paxton's former deputies reported him to the FBI, leading to a federal investigation that will continue regardless of the trial's outcome. Federal prosecutors have already taken testimony in front of a grand jury in San Antonio.

During the trial, the defense argued that there was either no evidence or insufficient evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The House impeachment managers, however, presented specific documents and played clips of testimony from the deputies who reported Paxton to the FBI. One of the impeachment articles accused Paxton of having an extramarital affair with Laura Olson, an employee of Paul's, and alleged that Paul's hiring of Olson amounted to a bribe. Another article claimed that Paul also bribed Paxton by paying for his home renovations.

/ Saturday, September 16, 2023, 9:06 PM /

themes:  Donald Trump  Texas

All rights to the materials belong to the sources indicated under the heading of each news and their authors.