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The Impeachment Trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton: Updates and Implications for Texas Politics

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The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton continues to dominate headlines as the proceedings enter their fifth and sixth days. The trial, which began on September 11, 2023, centers around allegations that Paxton directed his office to conduct sham investigations into the rivals of Nate Paul, a real estate investor and political donor who was under federal investigation.[0] Impeachment prosecutors argue that Paxton improperly provided Paul with sensitive information about the FBI investigation into his businesses and involved the attorney general's office in a lawsuit between Paul and an Austin nonprofit.[1]

Two of the articles of impeachment against Paxton specifically accuse him of misusing his office to aid Austin real estate developer Nate Paul in obtaining open records related to law enforcement searches on his properties. These allegations are at the heart of the impeachment case, with prosecutors arguing that Paxton violated the laws regarding the appointment of outside attorneys.[1]

The impeachment trial is being overseen by Texas state senators, with a two-thirds majority vote required to remove Paxton from office. However, the decision ultimately rests in the hands of nine Republican senators, as all 12 Senate Democrats are expected to vote in favor of impeachment.[2] While it is unclear how the senators will vote, many believe that their decision will be influenced by the future direction of the Republican Party rather than moral considerations.

The trial has garnered significant attention, with 30 out of 31 Texas senators deliberating on whether to convict Paxton.[3] His wife, Senator Angela Paxton, is barred from voting.[2] The senators are expected to vote on a motion to ban Paxton from holding public office in Texas if he is convicted on any of the 16 articles of impeachment. It is possible that a decision may be made prior to the weekend.[4]

Throughout the trial, Paxton's defense attorney, Tony Buzbee, has argued that the impeachment is based on a marital impropriety and compared it to the criminal charges facing former President Donald Trump.[5] Buzbee has dismissed the whistleblowers as disgruntled ex-staffers and has emphasized that marital affairs should not be a basis for impeachment.[6]

Paxton has been suspended from office since May, when the Texas House voted overwhelmingly to impeach him.[0] If convicted, he will be permanently removed from office, and the state Senate will hold a separate vote on whether to bar him from seeking office again.[7]

The trial has been marked by dramatic moments, including the attempted testimony of Laura Olson, the alleged affair partner. However, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the proceedings, deemed her unavailable to testify.[3] The defense claimed that the impeachment is a sham orchestrated by Republicans who dislike Paxton.[8]

Closing arguments were delivered on Friday, with the House impeachment managers accusing Paxton of serving only himself and betraying his trust and commitment to the law. The defense argued that impeaching Paxton based on marital impropriety would set a dangerous precedent.

The jury of state senators began deliberations on Friday, with no decision reached.[5] Deliberations are set to resume on Saturday.

The impeachment trial of Ken Paxton has captivated Texas and the nation, with the outcome likely to have significant implications for the future of the state's politics. As the trial continues, all eyes will be on the senators as they make their decision on the fate of the Texas Attorney General.

0. “Impeachment trial Day 8: Defense fires back at allegations against Ken Paxton” KUT, 14 Sep. 2023, https://www.kut.org/2023-09-14/impeachment-trial-day-8-defense-fires-back-at-allegations-against-ken-paxton

1. ““I did everything at his supervision”: Outside lawyer says Ken Paxton approved every step of Nate Paul investigation” The Texas Tribune, 12 Sep. 2023, https://www.texastribune.org/2023/09/12/ken-paxton-impeachment-trial-brandon-cammack

2. “Ken Paxton's Impeachment Is a Battle for the Soul of the Texas GOP” The New Republic, 14 Sep. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/article/175409/impeachment-ken-paxton-texas-gop

3. “Texas impeachment: 5 things to know as jury deliberates on Paxton” The Hill, 15 Sep. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/4206832-texas-impeachment-five-things-to-know-as-jury-deliberates-on-paxton/

4. “Texas AG’s mistress excused from testifying in impeachment trial” The Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/09/13/paxton-texas-attorney-general-mistress

5. “No Verdict Yet in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's Impeachment Trial” The Wall Street Journal, 16 Sep. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/politics/policy/texas-attorney-general-faces-impeachment-trial-vote-65c8a25d

6. “Ken Paxton's alleged mistress Laura Olson is ‘present but deemed unavailable to testify,' Dan Patrick announces” KHOU.com, 13 Sep. 2023, https://www.khou.com/article/news/special-reports/paxton-impeachment-trial/ken-paxton-impeachment-trial-alleged-mistress-testimony/285-06ac697f-290a-49ed-8bcc-5c178109e637

7. “Texas Senate deliberations in AG Paxton impeachment trial spill into second day” CNN, 16 Sep. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/15/politics/ken-paxton-impeachment-texas-attorney-general/index.html

8. “Ken Paxton impeachment trial: Day 9 brings closing arguments, no vote on articles” CBS News, 16 Sep. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/texas/news/ken-paxton-impeachment-trial-day-9-brings-closing-arguments-no-vote-on-articles

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