Impeachment Trial Commences For Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

The trial for suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton began on Tuesday morning and is anticipated to extend for a minimum of two to three weeks. During this time, House impeachment managers will present witness testimonies along with over 4,000 pages of evidence.

The state Senate is addressing 16 articles of impeachment related to allegations of bribery, dereliction of duty and negligence of official responsibilities.

Paxton is only the third individual in the history of the Texas legislature to face an impeachment trial.

An ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, Paxton played a central role in initiating multiple lawsuits in December 2020 contesting the election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Bipartisan support for impeachment came from 60 Republican and 61 Democratic legislators, while 23 Republican legislators opposed it. Per the Texas Constitution, Paxton was immediately suspended from his role as Texas Attorney General.

The focal point of the impeachment trial revolves around Paxton’s association with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul. Despite labeling the trial as a “politically motivated sham” and an attempt to disenfranchise his supporters, Paxton secured a third term in 2022, even while facing longstanding state criminal charges and an ongoing FBI investigation.

In May, the state House of Representatives, under GOP leadership, voted decisively to impeach Paxton. This decision was primarily influenced by allegations from his former deputies, who asserted that the attorney general had wielded his authority to assist a wealthy donor. In return, this donor had offered favors, including the employment of a woman with whom Paxton had engaged in an extramarital affair.

Angela Paxton, Paxton’s wife, and a state senator, will attend the trial but is recused from voting, participating in deliberations or questioning witnesses.

Paxton’s legal team is likely to request the dismissal of the impeachment articles using the “prior term doctrine,” contending that the alleged offenses took place before the last election.

To pass the motion to dismiss, a simple majority vote of 16 senators is needed. There are 18 Republican and 12 Democrat senators eligible to vote on these motions.

As Paxton’s defense team begins its strategy, one of their initial tasks will be to “demonstrate House managers did not prove the grounds of impeachment,” according to Gary Polland, a Houston defense attorney and former chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.

Polland emphasized that the senators should base their votes on the merits of the case, rather than being concerned about political ramifications.

If a two-thirds majority of state senators vote in favor of conviction on any impeachment article, Paxton will be promptly ousted from his position. Subsequently, the Texas House trial managers can request the Senate to decide whether Paxton should be permanently barred from holding any state office in the future.