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Republican Texas AG Ken Paxton acquitted of corruption charges

Paxton was being tried in a historic impeachment trial in the Texas Senate on 16 impeachment articles

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Whistleblowers David Maxwell, former director of law enforcement for the Texas Attorney General’s office, front left, and Margaret Moore former Travis County district attorney, front right, with other trial witnesses watch as state senators acting as jurors vote in the impeachment trial for suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, in Austin, Texas. Paxton has been acquitted of all charges at his impeachment trial.

Eric Gay, Associated Press

The Texas Senate voted to acquit Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for corruption charges during an impeachment trial.

Paxton was being tried in a historic impeachment trial in the Texas Senate on 16 impeachment articles.

What was the impeachment trial about?

It goes back to “allegations that Paxton improperly used the powers of his office to protect Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who was indicted in June on federal charges of making false statements to banks,” according to The Associated Press.

He was impeached in May and had been suspended without pay until Saturday when he was reinstated to his post at the conclusion of the vote, per CNN.

How impeachment works in Texas: When public officials in Texas are impeached by the House, they are suspended from office until the Senate votes, per AP News. If the Senate votes to convict a public official on any article of impeachment, they will be permanently removed from office. An acquittal allows for the official to return to office immediately.

Paxton was acquitted on all 16 articles of impeachment, per AP News.

Many of the articles of impeachment center around Paxton’s relationship with Paul, according to AP News, some of which include:

  • Abuse of the opinion process.
  • Abuse of the open records process.
  • Misuse of official information.
  • Termination of whistleblowers.
  • Constitutional bribery.
  • Conspiracy and attempted conspiracy.
  • Abuse of public trust.

The jury was composed of 30 senators — a majority of which are Republicans, and the group met for around eight hours Friday before returning Saturday morning to vote.

According to The New York Times, the case “deepened the rift in the Republican Party in Texas.”

Who is Ken Paxton?

Paxton was a key ally to former President Donald Trump.

He first gained notoriety when he was “a top legal adversary of former President Barack Obama’s administration,” NBC News reported.

After involvement in lawsuits to overturn the Affordable Care Act, as well as the results of the 2020 presidential election, he became “a popular force for the right,” per NBC News.

How did Paxton, other leaders respond to his acquittal?

Paxton responded to the vote with a statement that he posted on X, “Today, the truth prevailed. The truth could not be buried by mudslinging politicians or their powerful benefactors.”

He also added, “The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt.”

CBS News reported that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the trial was “a waste of time and resources.

“It never should have happened,” Patrick said, he told CBS News after the trial.

Democrat Senator Nathan Johnson disagreed, “He abused his powers, not in a subtle way,” he told The New York Times.

During sworn testimony, Ryan Bangert, a former top aide to Paxton, said, “I went to the FBI because I believed based on my experience over the previous nine months that the attorney general had abandoned his obligation to work on behalf of the interests of the people of Texas, to serve the interest of one person, Nate Paul,” per NBC News.