Sep. 18—AUSTIN — The Texas Senate voted to acquit Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Saturday after nearly 24 hours of deliberation. He will return to the office from which he had been suspended.
Paxton was acquitted on all 16 charges lodged against him including corruption, disregard of official duty and constitutional bribery, many of which were tied to his relationship with Austin real estate developer and friend Nate Paul.
Paxton has maintained his innocence.
He is the first Texas statewide official to face impeachment in more than 100 years.
“Today, the truth prevailed. The truth could not be buried by mudslinging politicians or their powerful benefactors,” Paxton said in a statement. “Now that this shameful process is over, my work to defend our constitutional rights will resume.”
Two-thirds of the Senate — or 21 votes — was necessary for conviction. There are 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats in the Senate. State Sen. Angela Paxton, a Republican and the wife of Paxton, was not permitted to vote or be part of the deliberations.
While the 12 Democrats voted to impeach on most of the charges, no more than two Republicans ever voted to impeach. State Sens. Robert Nichols and Kelly Hancock were the only two Republicans to vote for impeachment. They are not up for re-election until 2026. The six Republicans up for re-election in 2024 — state Sens. Paul Bettencourt, Phil King, Tan Parker, Joan Huffman, Donna Campbell, Drew Springer — voted for acquittal on each charge.
Four remaining articles that were held in abeyance were also dismissed by a Senate vote of 19-11.
“Senate is full of cowards, except for Sen. Nichols from Jacksonville,” said Stan Perry, a native of Frankston. “I’m proud of him for recognizing the graft and corruption by AG Paxton, who has abused his office and the public trust.”
On Monday, Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) released a statement with regard to the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“I voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton because of the credible testimony I heard and
the many thousands of pages of evidence presented during trial,” Nichols stated. “The evidence included testimony from many of his top staff, including First Assistant AG Jeff Mateer, Deputy First Assistant AG Ryan Bangert, Deputy AG for Legal Counsel Ryan Vassar, Director of Law Enforcement Texas Ranger David Maxwell, Deputy AG for Criminal Justice Mark Penley, Deputy AG for Civil Litigation Darren McCarty and Deputy AG for Policy and Strategic Initiatives Blake Brickman. I believe these individuals displayed tremendous courage by reporting what they witnessed as violations of law.”
Nichols said their testimony, combined with the totality of all the other evidence presented by the House Board of Managers, proved to him beyond a reasonable doubt that the Attorney General’s actions violated Texas law and his oath of office.
“The oath I swore, to render a true verdict based on the evidence presented, did not leave room for
politics or second guessing,” Nichols stated. “I have, and always will, vote for what I believe is right.
Copies of the evidence the court considered, as well as a complete audio-video record of the
arguments are available online at www.senate.texas.gov/coi.”
Senator Nichols was first elected to the Texas Senate in 2006. He represents 18 counties including the greater part of East and South East Texas and Jefferson County.
Saturday, Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine) said he would not be making any comments or statements with regard to Paxton’s trial.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a statement on Paxton’s trail Saturday afternoon.
“I have been unusually quiet since the Texas House of Representatives sent the Senate articles of impeachment against the attorney general on very short notice in the final hours of the regular legislative session,” Patrick stated. “The law requires the Senate to receive the articles and have a trial, and once I realized I would be the presiding officer and judge, I thought it was my duty to be quiet on this issue. I have done my very best to do so these last three months and these two weeks. I spent most of the last 90 days preparing for this trial. I have issued over 240 subpoenas, studied numerous motions, written multiple orders, read hundreds of pages of history, rules, and documents, and worked on every detail of this trial.”
Patrick thanked the Rules Committee for their “tireless work writing rules that some have said are the finest rules ever written on impeachment. All of us studied past impeachments from across the country to learn from the mistakes of past impeachments so we would not make the same errors. The Rules Committee should be proud of their work.”
And he thanked the Senators for doing their work in a thorough, thoughtful and professional manner.
“I feel it is important to set the full record straight for the future, so the full picture of what happened is known and how it was we got here,” Patrick stated. “In the House, the vote to send articles of impeachment against the attorney general to the Senate happened very quickly, with virtually no time for 150 members to study the 20 articles. The Speaker and his team rammed through the first impeachment of a statewide-elected official in Texas in over 100 years while paying no attention to the precedent.
“In the past, the target of the investigation was notified and invited to attend with counsel and given the opportunity to cross examine witnesses that were placed under oath before testimony was taken. At the conclusion of past House investigations, the evidence was laid out for weeks for House members to evaluate before they took their vote on articles of impeachment.”
Patrick said the Texas legislature needs to amend the Texas Constitution on the issue of impeachment during its next session because the way the constitution is currently written allowed a flawed process to happen this year.
“Any testimony given in a House impeachment investigation must be given under oath and the target must be allowed to be present with a lawyer to cross examine the witnesses,” Patrick stated, “Otherwise, people can say anything without any accountability or need to be truthful because there is no threat of perjury.
“The House must also give all House members a minimum of 2 weeks to review all evidence given under oath before voting on such a serious matter. Had they done these two things in May, this trial may never have happened. When the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, the official in question should not be put on unpaid leave through the process. The federal system does not allow that. President Clinton and President Trump did not have to step down from their duties during their impeachment process. This is not a partisan issue. We owe it to future legislatures to make these changes so that no future official impeached by the House, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, is subjected to the way this impeachment process occurred.”
Patrick said millions of taxpayer dollars has been wasted on this impeachment.
“I will call for a full audit of all taxpayer money spent by the House from the beginning of their investigation in March to today,” he stated. “We will provide our costs as well that were forced on us by the House impeachment. One big difference is that the Senate did not pay a huge team of outside lawyers and investigators. An impeachment should never happen again in the House like it happened this year.”
“Simply put, the burden of proof — beyond a reasonable doubt — was not met,” Republican state Sen. Charles Schwertner said in a statement. “Impeachment is a powerful political tool that should be judiciously, thoughtfully, and rarely used.”
Schwertner voted against impeaching Paxton on every charge.
State Sen. Pete Flores, R-Pleasanton, agreed with Schwertner that the burden of proof was not met. Flores also voted against each article of impeachment.
“I stand staunchly behind my vote after fully considering the evidence provided in the case,” Flores said.
State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, said a “broken and corrupt system” saved Paxton.
“People elected to office are sworn to an oath to protect all the citizens under their charge, not their ultra wealthy, well-connected friends. Today, Texas Republicans decided that the corruption and lies of people like Ken Paxton … are fine by them,” Gutierrez said.
Gov. Greg Abbott also responded to the acquittal saying in a statement that “the jury has spoken.”
“Attorney General Paxton received a fair trial as required by the Texas Constitution. Attorney General Paxton has done an outstanding job representing Texas, especially pushing back against the Biden Administration,” Abbott said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him to secure the border and protect Texas from federal overreach.”
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