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Impeachment trial of Texas' AG begins

 September 6, 2023

Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment trial kicked off in Austin on Tuesday,a process that was notably initiated by lawmakers from his own political faction.

The Texas state Senate is deliberating on 16 articles of impeachment, which encompass accusations of bribery, neglect of duty, and failing to uphold official responsibilities, as Fox News reported.

With this, Paxton joins a rare list, becoming only the third individual to undergo an impeachment trial in the Texas legislature's history.

House Vote and Allegations from Former Aides

While Paxton is renowned for his alignment with ex-President Donald Trump -- taking the lead in several lawsuits in December 2020 to contest the presidential election outcome -- the focal point of this impeachment trial is his connection with Austin-based real estate magnate Nate Paul.

Paxton, defending himself, has criticized the trial as politically driven and an attempt to marginalize his supporters. He secured a third term in 2022 amidst existing state criminal charges and an ongoing FBI probe.

In May, the Republican-majority state House of Representatives voted decisively in favor of Paxton's impeachment.

The catalyst for this decision revolved primarily around allegations from Paxton's former aides. They accused the AG of abusing his authority to aid a wealthy benefactor, who then returned the favor in various ways, including offering employment to a woman Paxton was allegedly involved with.

Trial Dynamics: Jury and Key Players

The impeachment trial will have a jury comprised of 31 state senators, many of whom share Paxton's ideological perspective.

Overseeing this trial is Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who generously contributed $125,000 to Paxton's previous reelection bid. Paxton's wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, will be present during the proceedings but will abstain from voting or participation.

The threshold for conviction is set at a two-thirds majority. This means even if all 12 Democratic Senators vote for Paxton's impeachment, they would need the concurrence of at least nine of the 19 Republican senators.

The case against Paxton has been in the public eye since 2020 after eight senior deputies reported to the FBI about alleged unlawful acts committed by Paxton to assist Paul.

These deputies, mostly conservatives selected by Paxton, conveyed to investigators that Paxton overrode their recommendations and engaged an external attorney to investigate Paul's claims of misconduct by the FBI.

Additional Revelations and Implications

As the trial progresses, more evidence is expected to come to light. Federal authorities are still investigating the ties between Paul and Paxton. The data unveiled during this impeachment trial could have potentially serious legal and political ramifications for Paxton.

As of June, Paul faced indictment on federal criminal charges due to accusations of misleading banks to obtain loans exceeding $170 million, the Associated Press reported. He has pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations concerning his interactions with Paxton.

Although Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges back in 2015, he has not yet been tried on the counts. The Senate, for now, has chosen to overlook three articles of impeachment related to those allegedly fraudulent activities and another related to Paxton's ethical declarations.

In the wake of their FBI revelations, all eight deputies who took issue with Paxton's conduct either resigned or were dismissed. Subsequently, four among that group filed a lawsuit against Paxton under the state's whistleblower act.

A cross-party assembly of legislators who championed Paxton's impeachment in the House pointed out that the AG's attempt to use $3.3 million of taxpayer money for a settlement was one of the primary reasons for their investigation.