Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment on Saturday, in what is being seen as a huge blow to the hopes of Democrats in the state and around the country.
Paxton was surprisingly impeached by the Texas State House of Representatives on charges of bribery and corruption. The vote, which was held in May, in the state House included 70% of Republicans voting to impeach Paxton.
But, Republicans in the Texas Senate didn’t vote the same way as their GOP counterparts in the House. In fact, only two of the 19 GOP senators voted to convict Paxton for even one article of impeachment – Kelly Hancock from North Richland Hills and Bob Nichols from Jacksonville.
In order for Paxton to be convicted in his impeachment trial – which would’ve seen him removed from office – there would’ve needed to be 21 people voting in favor of it. None of the 16 impeachment articles received more than 14 votes.
Over the two weeks of the trial, Paxton was in person for just two of them, and he wasn’t even there when he was exonerated. Following the trial, Paxton returned to work and expressed his typical defiance.
In a statement he released after the votes, Paxton said:
“The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House. The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt.”
The trial was quite a dramatic one. There were plenty of witnesses who were called to the stand, some of which testified that Paxton abused his office repeatedly.
Some people who formerly served in senior positions for Paxton accused him of using his position to help his friend Nate Paul, a struggling real estate investor from Austin, harass and investigate his enemies, delay multiple foreclosure sales on some of his properties and also obtain some confidential records on law enforcement officials who were investigating him.
Impeachment managers in the Texas House also said that, in return for all that influential work, Paul renovated Paxton’s home in Austin for free, and also helped him cover up an affair that he had with a woman who once served as an aide in the Texas Senate.
Senators, though, weren’t persuaded by their arguments.
Republican Senator Bob Hall, who represents Edgewood, said after the hearing completed:
“This should have never happened.”
Hall said that the House’s investigation into Paxton was flawed and rushed.
Immediately after the verdict was handed down, Paxton was able to return to his office. He was automatically suspended once the House’s official impeachment was handed down back in May.
Until the Senate vote was taken this weekend, though, it was up in the air whether Paxton would be safe. After all those Republicans voted to impeach him in the House, it was thought that it would be possible Paxton could actually be removed from office.