(CTN NEWS) – In a historic impeachment trial, the Texas Senate has cleared the state’s Republican attorney general of bribery and corruption accusations.
This decision, reached on Saturday, paves the way for the return of Ken Paxton to his position, marking the end of his suspension that began over three months ago.
He had been suspended from office following a resounding vote by fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives, who sought his removal on charges related to abuse of power.
Paxton, a staunch ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump, celebrated the Senate’s verdict as a triumph for truth. In a statement, he remarked, “Today, the truth prevailed. The truth could not be obscured by the tactics of mudslinging politicians or their influential backers.”
Trump also expressed his approval of the outcome, extending congratulations to Paxton for what he called a “remarkable and historic victory, Texas-sized.”
Ken Paxton’s Impeachment Trial and the Divisions Within the Texas Republican Party
Ken Paxton, who had gained national recognition as a persistent opponent of the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden, notably through numerous lawsuits aimed at thwarting the implementation of federal policies, faced a total of 16 articles of impeachment.
The trial, commencing on September 5th, witnessed several former high-ranking aides providing extensive testimony regarding what they alleged were Paxton’s corrupt actions.
These allegations included accusations of abusing the authority of his office to shield Nate Paul, a wealthy political donor and real estate developer, from federal investigations.
In return, it was claimed that Paul assisted in arranging an extramarital affair for Paxton and funded home renovations for him.
To secure a conviction on any individual article of impeachment, a minimum of two-thirds of Texas’s 31 senators, which equates to 21 senators, needed to vote in favor. However, none of the articles of impeachment garnered more than 14 senators voting to find Paxton guilty.
It’s worth noting that Angela Paxton, the spouse of the firebrand politician, holds the position of a state senator but was not permitted to participate in the proceedings.
The trial laid bare deep divisions within the Texas Republican Party, showcasing a schism between the social conservatives who have wielded significant influence over the past decade and rallied behind Paxton.
And the more traditional conservatives who argue that his actions have brought disgrace upon both the party and the state.
Back in May, the Texas House voted decisively, with a tally of 121-23, to impeach Paxton on 20 separate articles, marking him as only the third sitting politician in the state’s 178-year history to face such proceedings.
The catalyst for the trial stemmed from Paxton’s earlier request this year, seeking approval from House lawmakers for a $3.3 million settlement he had negotiated with former staff members who had accused him of abusing his office in 2020 and were subsequently terminated. State legislators, however, declined to allocate funds for this settlement.
Post-Impeachment Reactions and Ongoing Challenges for Ken Paxton
Following the conclusion of the impeachment proceedings on Saturday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a prominent Republican who presided over the trial as the Senate’s president, criticized the entire process, characterizing it as hastily conducted and lacking in transparency.
He remarked, “Millions of taxpayers’ dollars have been squandered on this impeachment. It should never have occurred this year, and hopefully, it won’t happen again.”
Paxton’s detractors expressed disappointment with the outcome. Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who voted to convict Paxton, contended that “a flawed and corrupt system allowed Ken Paxton to misuse the powers of his office,” further asserting that “Texas Republicans have essentially endorsed the misconduct and falsehoods of individuals like Ken Paxton.”
Shortly after the verdict, Republican Governor Greg Abbott welcomed Paxton back to his duties without reservation, commending his work in representing Texas, particularly in resisting the Biden Administration.
Abbott stated, “Attorney General Paxton has performed admirably in his role, especially in pushing back against the Biden Administration. I anticipate our continued collaboration to secure the border and safeguard Texas from federal overreach.”
Nevertheless, Paxton’s legal challenges are far from over. He still faces a separate trial on felony securities fraud charges, remains under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and faces the risk of losing his license to practice law in Texas due to his unfounded attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in favor of Biden.
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