The impeachment trial of Texas Lawyer Normal Ken Paxton is underway with dwell tv protection, a former aide who reported him to the FBI on the witness stand and his spouse watching from her desk within the state Senate however prohibited from collaborating.
However how a lot Paxton himself will participate within the historic trial that resumes Wednesday is up within the air. Going through the gravest menace but to his political future, Paxton left the beginning of the proceedings early and can’t be compelled to testify over accusations of corruption which have dogged one in every of Texas’ strongest figures for years.
The trial may final weeks and is starting with testimony from Paxton’s former second-in-command, the primary in a doubtlessly lengthy line of onetime allies who may assist Republican impeachment managers construct their case that Paxton needs to be completely faraway from workplace.
Paxton pleaded not responsible Tuesday however didn’t return for opening arguments, when his attorneys sharply criticized the impeachment and urged Republican senators to acquit.
“I’ve one easy ask: Do the suitable issues,” legal professional Dan Cogdell stated Tuesday. “And the suitable factor is to vote not responsible.”
The testimony of Jeff Mateer, an evangelical Christian lawyer who describes himself as far to the political proper, underscores how Paxton’s impeachment is a uncommon occasion of a celebration in search of to carry one in every of its personal accountable in a bitterly partisan age. Mateer was the primary witness referred to as by impeachment managers and was anticipated to return to the stand Wednesday.
If convicted, Paxton could possibly be barred from elected workplace in Texas. Senators on Tuesday rejected quite a few motions to dismiss the fees towards Paxton, who just isn’t required to attend all of the proceedings.
“Mr. Paxton needs to be faraway from workplace as a result of he failed to guard the state and as a substitute used his elected workplace for his personal profit,” stated Republican state Rep. Andrew Murr, one of many Home impeachment managers.
“In Texas we require extra from our public servants than merely avoiding being a legal,” he stated.
Paxton was not the one one who left the primary day of the proceedings early: Though the beginning of the trial was carried dwell by some Texas stations and his supporters lined up earlier than dawn outdoors the Capitol, empty seats within the Senate gallery outnumbered onlookers by the tip.
For years many Texas Republicans have resisted criticizing or dealing with head-on the litany of authorized troubles surrounding Paxton, who has remained fashionable among the many laborious proper by aligning himself intently to Trump and speeding his workplace into lawsuits which have halted priorities of the Biden administration.
On the coronary heart of the case are accusations that Paxton abused his workplace to assist one in every of his donors, Austin actual property developer Nate Paul, who was indicted this summer time on costs of constructing false statements to a financial institution to safe greater than $170 million in loans.
Paxton legal professional Tony Buzbee stated Paxton “gave nothing of significance” to Paul and framed the proceedings as an try to overturn the desire of voters.
The Republican-led Home voted 121-23 to question Paxton in Could, with the 20 articles of impeachment together with abuse of public belief, unfitness for workplace and bribery. The vote instantly suspended Paxton and made him solely the third sitting official in Texas’ almost 200-year historical past to be impeached.
His future is now within the arms of a Senate stacked with ideological allies and a presiding decide, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who loaned $125,000 to his final reelection marketing campaign. One member of the Republican majority within the chamber is his spouse, Sen. Angela Paxton, however whereas she will be able to attend the trial, she is barred from voting on whether or not to convict or acquit.
A two-thirds majority — or 21 senators — is required for conviction, which means that if all 12 Democrats vote towards Paxton, no less than 9 Republicans must be a part of them.
Peter Bowen, 74, drove from Houston at 3:30 a.m. to be in line on the Senate earlier than dawn Tuesday. He stated Paxton, who was reelected to a 3rd time period final November, was impeached due to his help for Trump and voters have already made clear the place they stand on the allegations.
“All of us knew about them, and we elected him. What they’re doing is taking away the vote of nearly all of the folks of Texas,” Bowen stated.
The trial will seemingly carry forth new proof. However the define of the allegations towards Paxton has been public since 2020, when eight of his prime deputies reported him to the FBI, setting off an investigation that continues to be ongoing.