Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s political fate rests in the hands of the state Senate, which will resume private deliberations Saturday after the Republican impeachment trial ended Friday without a public vote on 16 charges.
The state Senate began deliberating just before noon Friday Central Time after House impeachment managers and the attorney general’s defense attorneys presented their closing arguments. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told senators they would resume debate at 9 a.m. CT Saturday if they weren’t ready to publicly vote on the articles by Friday night.
“I don’t know how long the jury is going to deliberate. It could be hours; it could be days,” said Patrick, who presided over the trial.
Patrick ordered the body to be examined until at least 8 p.m. CT, and some chamber members began leaving the Capitol grounds around 7 p.m. CNN has reached out to Patrick’s office for comment.
The two-week trial at the Texas State Capitol in Austin ended Friday, when both House impeachment managers and Paxton’s legal team were given one hour each to make closing arguments. Paxton appeared on the state Senate floor for the first time Entering his not guilty pleas On the first day of the trial.
“You could say he’s one of us. But unlike the public servants here today, he doesn’t respect the principles of honor and integrity,” Republican Rep. Andrew Moore, chairman of the House impeachment inquiry, said Friday morning.
Meanwhile, Paxton’s attorney Tony Busbee described House’s lawsuit as “a farce” fueled by rifts within the Republican Party, which dominates all branches of Texas government.
“The only evidence we have in this case is that they don’t want Ken Paxton,” Busbee said.
21 of the 30 senators qualified to vote to remove Paxton from office — Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a state senator. But cannot votee – must be found guilty of any of the 16 articles of the Attorney General’s indictment, most of which stem from allegations that he abused his office for the benefit of friend and donor Nate Paul. Paxton “has allowed Nate Ball to affect the office,” Moore said.
Patrick said reporters and the public will receive at least 30 minutes of notice when senators reach decisions.
He advised senators to refrain from discussing the impeachment inquiry outside of their deliberations or from considering any information other than what was presented during the hearing — including avoiding media coverage.
“You may not watch television. You might not be looking at your phone,” Patrick said.
The GOP-led House move to fire Paxton followed the attorney general’s request for $3.3 million in state funding. To resolve a case with whistleblowers – High-ranking former employees who claimed unfair dismissal Reporting his alleged wrongdoings.
A former Republican state lawmaker who was elected attorney general in 2014, Paxton spent his entire tenure under a cloud of scandal. He was indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015 but has yet to go to trial.
However, Paxton built a national reputation as a hardline conservative who challenged many of former President Barack Obama’s major initiatives in the courts. He is a close ally of former President Donald Trump, who fought in court to overturn the 2020 election, throwing the Electoral College votes of four swing states that President Joe Biden won.
Paxton has been suspended from office since the House voted to fire him in May. If convicted, he would be permanently removed, and the state Senate would hold a separate vote on whether to bar him from running for office again.
Busbee, his defense attorney, compared Paxton’s dismissal to the criminal charges facing Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
He also portrayed Paxton as a political enemy of the Bush family. Former President George W. Bush was governor of Texas before his 2000 victory, and will run in the 2022 attorney general primary against former Texas land commissioner and son of Jeb Bush, George B. Paxton defeated Bush.
“Let’s make it known, let’s be clear now, the Bush era in Texas ends today,” Busbee said. “They can go back to Maine.”
Two days earlier, Paxton said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he sat down with former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson to “go to Maine next week to discuss the last two weeks in Texas politics.” It should be interesting! ”
Buzbee began his closing statement by describing the impeachment effort as a “political witch hunt” against Paxton “without any evidence.”
“If it happened to him, it can happen to anyone,” he said.
“What is this case about?” Buzbee asked the senators. “It’s nothing. It’s nothing.
Republican Rep. Jeff Leach, who, like Paxton, is from Collin County and one of the House impeachment managers, said he has long been close to the attorney general and considers him a political ally. Campaigns.
“Karl Rove is not sitting in my office right now. It’s me, just me,” he said.
Leach said Paxton has avoided accountability in recent years, including ignoring 12 invitations to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, which Leach chairs.
“The people of Texas deserve answers,” he said.
Busbee criticized House for the mention in the articles of impeachment of Paxton’s affair with a woman employed by Paul.
“We have all sinned and fallen short,” Busbee said. “If this allegation is based on adultery, stand in line! We’ll make a lot of accusations in this city.
“The Texas attorney general’s office has uncovered unprecedented abuses,” said Moore, a Junction Republican.
“He repeatedly demanded that his top representatives act as Nate Paul’s personal attorneys, not the state’s attorneys,” Moore said of Paxton.
“His lawyers came in here and tried to normalize his behavior,” Moore said. “They want you to believe that there was nothing wrong with Mr. Paxton ignoring his senior staff’s repeated warnings about Nate Ball.”
This topic and story has been updated with additional improvements.