Political Trial Against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Begins in State Senate
The long-awaited political trial against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has officially commenced in the state Senate. On Tuesday, legislators unanimously supported the 16 articles of impeachment sent by the Lower House, accusing Paxton of misappropriation of funds, accepting bribes, and abuse of power, among other charges. However, Paxton’s defense team argues that the accusations are baseless and have declared him “not guilty.”
Lead defense attorney, Tony Buzbee, stated in his opening arguments, “There’s nothing here to support an impeachment.” Buzbee assured that he would present evidence to refute the articles defined by the House of Representatives, claiming that Paxton has been unjustly smeared by both lawmakers and the media. He argued that the press has its own agendas aligned with those behind the impeachment effort.
The case against Paxton gained traction when a group of his trusted employees sued him in 2020, alleging that he had used his power to benefit a friend and donor, Texas real estate investor Nate Paul. The majority of the articles of impeachment are directly related to the dealings between Paxton and Paul.
Republican representative Andrew Murr, one of the directors of the impeachment, led the investigation and stated that Paxton had engaged in a pattern of deception and alleged crimes to benefit Paul. Murr claimed that Paxton had allowed Paul to utilize the power of the attorney general’s office to persecute perceived enemies. He firmly believes that the evidence gathered during the trial will prove Paxton’s inadequacy for the position of the attorney general of Texas.
If found guilty of at least one count, Paxton will be permanently removed from office. State senators will vote on each of the articles at the end of the trial. There is also the possibility that they could vote to bar Paxton from running for any elected office in Texas in the future. Additionally, Paxton faces a federal criminal indictment for securities fraud, which could result in a prison sentence.
The allegations against Paxton, outlined in a nearly 4,000-page investigation, include his alleged interference in foreclosure lawsuits by issuing inappropriate legal opinions to protect Paul’s disputed properties. It is also alleged that Paxton harassed and interfered with employees who reported the unethical activities taking place within his office.
Nate Paul has played a crucial role in the investigation against Paxton. He sought Paxton’s assistance when the FBI was investigating him for obtaining million-dollar loans through false statements to banks. In return, Paul allegedly offered a job to a woman with whom Paxton admitted to having an extramarital affair. Paul also contributed to the renovations of Paxton’s house in Austin, which resulted in bribery charges.
Paxton retaliated by firing the employees who exposed him but later reached a settlement to pay them millions in compensation. However, his troubles escalated when he requested the state of Texas to disburse the money from the compensation, leading to an intensification of the legislative investigation and subsequent impeachment trial.
Buzbee, Paxton’s defense attorney, aims to discredit the allegations of payments made by Nate Paul for renovations on Paxton’s Austin home. He emphasized that Paxton and his wife, Senator Angela Paxton, were actively involved in visiting stores to find the best prices for supplies, refuting claims that Nate fully funded the renovations. Buzbee dismissed other supposed evidence, such as Paxton’s alleged use of an Uber account for visits to an extramarital affair partner, as “manufactured lies.”
Regarding a donation of $25,000 that Nate made to Paxton’s campaign, Buzbee argued that it should not be considered a bribe. He stated, “Ken Paxton was not the only one who received money from donations…Campaign donations are not bribes. We would have to impeach more people.”
In a recent poll by the University of Texas, only 28% of Republican voters believed that the House of Representatives had grounds to impeach Paxton. The same poll revealed that Paxton’s overall approval rating has fallen to 27% among all voters but remains at 46% among his party’s supporters.
As the trial continues over the next two to three weeks, all eyes are on the outcome that could reshape the political landscape in Texas.