Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Is Back After Beating Impeachment Effort

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AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File

After a 10-day trial, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been acquitted of all charges in this contentious impeachment effort. As Sarah wrote in May, a GOP-led committee unanimously approved impeachment articles against Mr. Paxton over bribery allegations and being unfit for office. Paxton countered that his political enemies executed this legal effort:

A Texas House of Representatives investigative committee recommended impeachment for Republican state Attorney General Ken Paxton. 

The committee unanimously voted 5-0 to adopt articles of impeachment for Paxton on Thursday, with the recommendation coming as soon as Friday. 

The five-member GOP-led investigative committee met on Wednesday to discuss the allegations of wrongdoing against Paxton, who is accused of breaking several laws and misusing his power to help a political donor, including abusing the use of official information, official capacity, and retaliating. 

Paxton claimed the probe against him was based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims” and is fueled by “RINOs.” 

Paxton was acquitted of the charges in a 14-16 vote today. Supporters for his removal need 21votes for a conviction (via WaPo):

After a historic 10-day trial, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted Saturday by the state Senate on 16 charges of bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of office. He was immediately reinstated, ending a suspension that began in May with his impeachment by the state House. 

The verdict could propel the conservative Republican’s political future at home and potentially on the national stage. 

Senators had deliberated in private for more than eight hours before returning to the chamber to individually declare their decision in public on a form and then by voice. The process took about an hour and a half, the “yay” and “nay” votes being sounded over and over. Many resulted in the same 14-16 margin, with only two Republicans siding with the dozen Democrats; 21 votes were required for conviction. 

[…] 

His impeachment centered on his effort to obtain $3.3 million in state funding to settle a lawsuit by senior aides. Some of those aides had become whistleblowers, so distressed by his interactions with wealthy Austin developer Nate Paul that they reported their boss to the FBI. Several testified for the prosecution, and they were in the gallery on Saturday to hear the senators’ verdict. 

[…] 

The trial began Sept. 5, less than a year after the attorney general was reelected by a large margin to his third term — helped in no small part by the endorsement of former president Donald Trump. 

[…] 

Initially, Ken Paxton faced 20 charges. The Senate’s impeachment rules committee set aside four involving his private business dealings that House investigators alleged were obstruction of justice and false statements in official records. Before adjourning, senators voted to dismiss all of them. 

[…] 

Separately, Paxton is still contending with felony securities fraud charges — he was indicted months after he took office as attorney general in 2015 — but that case has languished as lawyers fought over where he should be tried. A hearing is scheduled in Houston on Oct. 6.

For now, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is back, free, and clear. Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement, saying Paxton received a fair trial under the Texas Constitution and looks forward to working with him and his office again.

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