On Saturday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R-Texas) was acquitted by the State Senate on every single charge against him in his impeachment trial.
As Axios reports, the dramatic conclusion comes after a majority of Republicans in the Texas House of Representatives voted to impeach Paxton in May, with 16 charges filed against him. In the House vote, 60 Republicans and all 61 Democrats voted in favor of impeachment while 23 Republicans voted against it.
In the Senate, a two-thirds majority of 21 state senators was needed to convict Paxton and remove him from office. Despite two Republicans – State Senators Bob Nichols (R-Texas) and Kelly Hancock (R-Texas) joining the 12 Democrats in favor of conviction, the remaining 16 Republicans in the senate voted to acquit him. The senate spent eight hours deliberating after eight days of testimony from witnesses.
“The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars, disrupted the work of the Office of Attorney General and left a dark and permanent stain on the Texas House,” Paxton said in a statement. “The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt.”
The trial revolved around allegations that Paxton had used the office of Attorney General to benefit a real estate developer in Austin, as well as allegations that Paxton improperly fired several deputies who allegedly reported him to the FBI.
In the closing arguments on Friday, one of Paxton’s attorneys, Tony Buzbee, declared the allegations against Paxton to be “baloney,” “bull,” and “hogwash.”
“There is shame here, and the shame sits right there that they would bring this case in this chamber with no evidence,” said Buzbee. “I am proud to represent Attorney General Ken Paxton. If this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.”
Upon his acquittal, Paxton was allowed to resume the duties of the office of Attorney General. However, the FBI is also investigating Paxton for the same allegations that brought about his impeachment, with the investigation even involving a grand jury.
The allegations are considered by some to have been retaliation against Paxton for his efforts to fight voter fraud in the 2020 election, as it was Paxton who led the most high-profile case immediately after the election, Texas v. Pennsylvania. Despite speculation that the initial allegations would lead to his defeat in the 2022 midterms, Paxton won both the primary and the general elections in a landslide last year.