KEN PAXTON IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
- A jury of 30 Texas Senators deliberated the 16 verdicts. Sen. Angela Paxton was not able to vote due to a conflict of interest.
- While deliberations were private, the Senators voted in the Senate Chamber, in public.
- For a conviction on any article of impeachment, two-thirds of the full Senate (21) must have sustained the article. A conviction of a single article would have remove the attorney general from office.
Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected to head back to work after being acquitted Saturday on all 16 articles of impeachment, shedding some of the allegations that have dogged him for the last three years.
A group of Texas Senators, most of them Republicans, acted as a jury and deliberated for less than a day before seperately voting on each article Saturday morning and clearing him of corruption charges. Paxton’s wife, State Sen. Angela Paxton, was present throughout the trial though she was forbidden from voting on a decision.
Paxton, who was not seen sitting next to his attorneys in the Senate Chamber as the votes were counted Saturday, issued a statement on X Saturday afternoon and addressed the hearing.
“Today, the truth prevailed,” Paxton said. “I’ve said many times: See the truth! And that is what was accomplished.”
Paxton also thanked his wife and his supporters, saying he would, “continue to honor your vote by defending the rule of law and our constitutional rights.”
“I also thank my legal team for exposing the absurdity of these false allegations,” Paxton said. “The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt.”
In his statement, he said the impeachment was a sham coordinated by the Biden Administration and House Speaker Dade Phelan that ultimately cost Texas taxpayers millions of dollars and disrupted the work of his office.
Phelan responded with his own statement on X.
“This was a Herculean task to put together a defense when we really didn’t even know what we were defending,” defense attorney Tony Buzbee said Saturday afternoon. “This should have never happened. I want to thank the court for giving us a just trial on behalf of Attorney General Ken Paxton. We should not have had to prove our innocence, but that’s what we did.”
In a fiery closing Friday, defense attorney Tony Buzbee said the case was about nothing and was based on supposition. He said the House Board of Managers failed to bring any evidence and they should be ashamed for bringing the case, which he often referred to as “foolishness,” to trial. While unleashing attacks on a wide-ranging cast of figures both inside and outside the Texas Capitol, mocking a Texas Ranger who warned Paxton he was risking indictment and another accuser who cried on the witness stand, Buzbee urged the group of Texas Senators serving as a jury that the burden of proof was high.
Leaning into flaring divisions among Republicans, Buzbee portrayed the impeachment as a plot orchestrated by an old guard of GOP rivals. He singled out George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush who challenged Paxton in the 2022 Republican primary, punctuating a closing argument that impugned the integrity of FBI agents and decried Texas’ most famous political dynasty.
“This is a political trial,” Buzbee said. “A political witch hunt. Let’s call it what it is … There is no doubt that these folks did not prove a case … They didn’t prove anything other than they did not like Ken Paxton.”
After the trial, the House Board of Mangers gave a statement about the results of the acquittal
“Those that voted to acquit were wholeheartedly Republican,” said Ann Johnson (D-Houston). “The house took a stand on the evidence that was to be presented, our lawyers, the board of managers, presented overwhelming evidence that Ken Paxton is the most corrupt politician in the State of Texas at this time, and the republicans and the Texas Senate just returned him to the office of top cop.”
Paxton, who left on the trial’s first day after pleading not guilty, missed all testimony and returned to the Senate chamber Friday where he sat at the defense table minutes before the trial resumed. Had he been convicted of even one of the articles of impeachment he would have been removed from office.
“As the state’s top cop, misconduct was and is inexcusable,” said State. Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), who presented closing arguments for the House. “He may claim to be one of us, but unlike the public servants here today, he has no regard for the principles of honor or integrity.”
The Republican-led Texas House, led by Murr, drafted articles of impeachment in May, accusing the Republican attorney general of a number of accusations related to his dealings with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul including alleged attempts to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits and improperly issuing legal opinions to benefit Paul, and firing, harassing and interfering with staff who reported what was going on. The bribery charges stem from Paul allegedly employing the woman with whom Paxton had an affair in exchange for legal help, and Paul allegedly paying for expensive renovations to one of Paxton’s homes.
The House committee said in May it was Paxton’s own request for $3.3 million in state funds to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that brought about the impeachment recommendation.
The whistleblowers are a group of former high-level staffers in Paxton’s office who notified the FBI that they believed their boss was breaking the law in helping Paul, who claimed that he was a victim of illegal behavior by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with improper warrants served in a search of his home and business and allegedly asked for help from the AG’s office.
Seven of the eight whistleblowers testified for the House in the trial with only Lacey Mase not taking the stand.
Paxton, who left the trial on the first day after pleading not guilty and didn’t return until closing arguments 10 days later, broadly denied any wrongdoing.
Lawyers for Paxton rested their case Thursday after calling just four witnesses. It was not until eight days into the trial that Paxton’s defense attorneys began calling their own witnesses. On Thursday they called Justin Gordon, the head of the Texas attorney general office’s open records division; Austin Kinghorn, an associate deputy attorney general for legal counsel; Henry De La Garza, HR director, chief employment counsel and ethics advisor for the OAG; and finally was Grant Dorfman, deputy first assistant at the OAG.
Attorneys for the bipartisan group of lawmakers prosecuting Paxton’s impeachment rested their case Wednesday after a woman who was expected to testify about an extramarital affair with Paxton made a sudden appearance at the trial, but never took the stand.
The affair is central to the historic proceedings and accusations that Paxton misused his power to help Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who was under FBI investigation and employed the woman, Laura Olson. One of the 16 articles of impeachment against Paxton alleges that Paul’s hiring of Olson amounted to a bribe.
Olson was called to the stand Wednesday morning in the Texas Senate and waited outside the chamber. But her testimony was delayed for hours before Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting as the trial’s judge, said toward the end of the day that Olson would not testify after all. He provided no further explanation but said both sides had agreed to it.
“She is present but has been deemed unavailable to testify,” Patrick said.
Paxton, who was suspended from office pending the trial’s outcome, was not required to attend the proceedings and did not appear in the Senate after pleading not guilty last week. As the scene played out Wednesday evening, Paxton posted on social media that he was headed to Maine next week to talk with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson about “the last two weeks in Texas politics.”
“It should be interesting!” he said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
1:10 p.m., Calls to dissolve the court of impeachment and sine die. The trial is concluded.
1:09 p.m., Patrick signed the final judgment and announced Paxton was reinstated to office.
1:08 p.m., Patrick is calling for a full audit of the cost of the impeachment from the House and will provide a list of costs from the Senate. Read Patrick’s full statement here.
1:06 p.m., Patrick calls for legislation to amend the state constitution to change the impeachment process to require people give testimony under oath and to allow the target of the impeachment time to talk to the witnesses and give members a minimum of two weeks to review evidence before voting. Patrick said the impeachment could have been avoided had the House done what he’s recommended here.
12:58 p.m., Patrick thanks the court, Senators, for their diligence in the hearing and issues a statement critical of the Texas House, saying they ignored precedent and rushed the impeachment through without giving the target of the impeachment time to respond.
12:56 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. The final four articles of impeachment are dismissed.
12:54 p.m., The motion to dismiss passed 19 yays, 11 nays.
12:53 p.m., The vote on the motion to dismiss is read by the clerk. Only 16 votes are needed to pass.
12:51 p.m., Senators voting whether or not to dismiss the final four articles.
12:51 p.m., Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury, Dist. 22) moved to dismiss the final four articles of impeachment held in abeyance.
12:49 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article XX.
12:46 p.m., The vote on Article XX is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
12:44 p.m., Patrick reads Article XX, calls for a vote.
12:43 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article XIX.
12:40 p.m., The vote on Article XIX is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
12:38 p.m., Patrick reads Article XIX, calls for a vote.
12:37 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article XVIII.
12:33 p.m., The vote on Article XVIII is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
12:32 p.m., Patrick reads Article XVIII, calls for a vote.
12:31 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article XVII.
12:28 p.m., The vote on Article XVII is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
12:26 p.m., Patrick reads Article XVII, calls for a vote.
12:25 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article XVI.
12:23 p.m., The vote on Article XVI is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
12:21 p.m., Patrick reads Article XVI, calls for a vote.
12:20 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article XV.
12:16 p.m., The vote on Article XV is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
12:15 p.m., Patrick reads Article XV, calls for a vote.
12:14 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article X.
12:14 p.m., The vote on Article X is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
12:07 p.m., Patrick reads Article X, calls for a vote.
12:07 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article IX.
12:04 p.m., The vote on Article IX is read by the clerk. It was 12 yays, 18 nays.
12:02 p.m., Patrick reads Article IX, calls for a vote.
12:01 p.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article VIII.
11:59 a.m., The vote on Article VIII is read by the clerk. It was eight yays, 22 nays.
11:56 a.m., Patrick reads Article VIII, calls for a vote.
11:55 a.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article VII.
11:54 a.m., The vote on Article VII is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
11:51 a.m., Patrick reads Article VII, calls for a vote.
11:51 a.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article VI.
11:51 a.m., The vote on Article VI is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
11:45 a.m., Patrick reads Article VI, calls for a vote.
11:44 a.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article V.
11:41 a.m., The vote on Article V is read by the clerk. It was 13 yays, 17 nays.
11:39 a.m., Patrick reads Article V, calls for a vote.
11:39 a.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article IV.
11:35 a.m., The vote on Article IV is read by the clerk. It was two yays and 28 nays.
11:33 a.m., Patrick reads Article IV, calls for a vote.
11:31 a.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article III.
11:28 a.m., The vote on Article III is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
11:26 a.m., Patrick reads Article III, calls for a vote.
11:25 a.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article II.
11:22 a.m., The vote on Article II is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
11:20 a.m., Patrick reads Article II, calls for a vote.
11:19 a.m., Patrick confirms the vote. Paxton is acquitted on Article I.
11:18 a.m., The vote on Article I is read by the clerk. It was 14 yays, 16 nays.
11:14 a.m., Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick calls for a vote on Article I. A “yay” vote is to convict, a “nay” vote is to acquit.
11:13 a.m., Ken Paxton is not seen in the Senate Chamber.
11:10 a.m.; The hearing is gaveled in and, as they have each day and before each session, they began with a prayer.
KEN PAXTON ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT
The Articles of impeachment are below. Articles XI-XIV were not being tried by the Texas Senate at this point.
DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY
ARTICLE I – Protection of charitable organization (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of failing to act as a public protector of charitable organizations by directing his employees in the attorney general’s office to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the Roy F. & JoAnn Cole Mitte Foundation against entities controlled by Paul, harming the Austin charity in an effort to benefit the wealthy donor.
ARTICLE II – Abuse of the opinion process (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of misusing his official power to issue written legal opinions. He allegedly had employees prepare an opinion that protected some of Paul’s properties from being sold in foreclosure. Paxton concealed his actions by asking a Senate committee chairperson to seek that opinion. He’s also accused of directing employees to reverse their legal conclusion to help Paul.
ARTICLE III – Abuse of the open records process (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of misusing his official power by allegedly interfering with his office’s handling of a public records request dealing with the files of a criminal investigation into Paul.
ARTICLE IV – Misuse of official information (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of misusing his power to administer public information law by improperly obtaining previously undisclosed information held by the attorney general’s office to benefit Paul.
DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY
ARTICLE V – Engagement of Cammack (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of misusing official powers by hiring attorney Brandon Cammack to investigate a baseless complaint made by Paul. That led to Cammack issuing more than 30 grand jury subpoenas in an effort to help Paul.
ARTICLE VI – Termination of whistleblowers (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of violating the state’s whistleblower law by retaliating against employees who reported his alleged unlawful acts to law enforcement, terminating them without good cause or due process. He’s also accused of engaging in a public and private campaign to impugn those employees’ professional reputations or prejudice their future employment.
MISAPPLICATION OF PUBLIC RESOURCES
ARTICLE VII – Whistleblower investigation and report (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of misusing public resources by directing employees to conduct a sham investigation into terminated employees’ whistleblower complaints and publish a report containing false or misleading statements in Paxton’s defense.
DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY
ARTICLE VIII – Settlement Agreement (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of misusing his official powers by concealing his wrongful acts in connection with the whistleblower’s complaints by entering into a settlement with the whistleblowers that provides for payment from public funds. The settlement halted the wrongful termination suit and delayed the discovery of facts and testimony at trial, to Paxton’s advantage. That allegedly prevented voters from making an informed decision about his reelection in 2022.
ARTICLE IX – Paul’s employment of a woman with whom Paxton has acknowledged having an affair (ACQUITTED)
It is alleged that Paxton benefited from Paul’s decision to hire the woman. In exchange, Paul allegedly received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the attorney general’s office.
ARTICLE X – Paul’s providing renovations to Paxton home (ACQUITTED)
It is alleged that in exchange for providing the renovations, Paul received favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the attorney general’s office.
FALSE STATEMENTS IN OFFICIAL RECORDS
ARTICLE XV – Whistleblower response report (ACQUITTED)
It is alleged that Paxton made or caused multiple false or misleading statements in the lengthy written report issued by his office in response to whistleblower allegations.
ARTICLE XVI – Conspiracy and attempted conspiracy (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of conspiring or attempting to conspire with others to commit acts described in one or more articles.
ARTICLE XVII – Misappropriation of public resources (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of misusing his official powers by causing employees to perform services for his benefit and the benefit of others.
ARTICLE XVIII – Dereliction of duty (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of violating the Texas Constitution, his oaths of office, statutes and public policy against public officials acting contrary to the public interest by engaging in acts described in one or more articles.
ARTICLE XIX – Unfitness for office (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of engaging in misconduct, private or public, of such character as to indicate his unfitness for office, as shown by the acts described in one or more articles.
ARTICLE XX – Abuse of public trust (ACQUITTED)
Paxton is accused of using, misusing or failing to use official powers to subvert the lawful operation of the state government and obstruct the fair and impartial administration of justice, bringing the attorney general’s office into scandal and eroding public confidence in state government, as shown by the acts described in one or more articles.
NBC 5 and the Associated Press.