Deliberations Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton impeachment trial second day
Deliberations in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment trial continue as senators consider corruption charges against him.
Deliberations in the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are set to resume after a jury of mostly Republican senators met for eight hours without reaching a verdict. The trial has created uncertainty in the Texas Capitol, where the outcome of votes is typically predictable due to the Republican majority. The trial has put Texas Republicans in unfamiliar territory as they decide whether Paxton should be removed from office for allegedly abusing his position to protect a political donor who was under FBI investigation. If a verdict is not reached by Sunday night, the senators may be sequestered until they reach one. Paxton's three terms in office have been marked by scandal and criminal charges, making this impeachment trial a defining moment for his political career. The impeachment was driven by fellow Republicans and has further divided the party in the conservative state. Paxton has gained national attention by engaging in polarizing legal battles across the country and has received support from former President Donald Trump and the far-right of the GOP.
The impeachment managers made their closing arguments on Friday, portraying Paxton as a corrupt official who should be removed from office. They emphasized the importance of holding public officials accountable for abusing their power. If convicted, Paxton would be the first statewide official in Texas to be convicted on impeachment charges in over a century. Defense attorney Tony Buzbee delivered a fiery rebuttal, attacking various figures involved in the trial and portraying the impeachment as a political conspiracy orchestrated by Paxton's Republican rivals. Buzbee singled out George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush, who challenged Paxton in the 2022 Republican primary. Buzbee questioned the integrity of FBI agents and criticized Texas' political dynasty.
Paxton, who did not attend most of the trial, returned for closing arguments. His wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, was present but unable to participate in the deliberations or vote on her husband's fate. The case revolves around allegations that Paxton misused his office to help 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 in 2020, triggering a federal investigation that will continue regardless of the impeachment trial's outcome.
The defense argued that there was insufficient evidence to support the charges against Paxton, while the impeachment managers presented specific documents and testimonies from the deputies who reported Paxton to the FBI. One of the articles of impeachment focuses on an alleged extramarital affair Paxton had with Laura Olson, who worked for Paul. Another article alleges that Paul bribed Paxton by paying for his home renovations.
The verdict will be decided by 30 of the 31 state senators, the majority of whom are Republicans. Convicting Paxton on any of the 16 articles of impeachment requires a two-thirds majority, meaning that at least nine Republicans would need to vote in favor of conviction if all 12 Democrats do so. Paxton faces additional legal challenges, including a federal investigation, a bar disciplinary proceeding, and state securities fraud charges dating back to 2015.