The suspended Texas attorney general will face 16 articles of impeachment before the Texas Senate.
AUSTIN, Texas — Suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton goes on trial for his impeachment Tuesday morning in Austin.
Texas State Senators will hear 16 articles of impeachment against Paxton, who faces accusations of bribery, disregard of duty and misappropriation of public resources.
We’re tracking the latest updates and developments from the trial here. You can also watch continuous coverage of the trial in the video player above.
Patrick rules that Paxton does not have to testify
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is overseeing the trial as the presiding officer in the Texas Senate, issued a win for Paxton by ruling that he cannot be compelled to testify in the trial. Patrick’s ruling came on a motion from Paxton’s legal team.
While many of the pre-trial motions had to be voted on by Senators — and all of those motions went against Paxton — Patrick was allowed to rule on a handful of motions, including the motion on whether or not Paxton should be compelled to testify.
Paxton motion to dismiss fails
Ken Paxton’s legal team filed a bevy of motions to dismiss the articles of impeachment against him, but each of those motions failed in votes by senators as the trial began Tuesday in Austin.
The most overarching motion to dismiss all articles of impeachment, claiming there is no evidence, failed by a vote of 24-6.
There are 31 senators, but Paxton’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, is not voting during the process.
Six senators voted to dismiss all articles of impeachment: Lois Kolkhorst, Paul Bettencourt, Brandon Creighton, Tan Parker, Bob Hall and Donna Campbell.
Paxton’s team also had filed a motion to exclude any evidence from prior to January 2023, but that motion also failed, 22 votes to eight.
A motion to dismiss most of the charges — 1-7, and 9-20 — also failed 22-8. The six senators who voted to dismiss all charges were joined by Charles Perry and Charles Schwertner.
For context, there will need to be 21 votes to convict Paxton in the impeachment and remove him from office.
Paxton had more support on later votes related to dismissing individual articles of impeachment, though the votes still failed. On the motion to dismiss Article 8 — disregard of official duty — 20 senators voted no, and 10 voted yes.
On the motion to dismiss Article 7 — misapplication of public resources — and Article 10 — false statements in official records — 21 senators voted no and 9 voted yes.
Senators sworn in with Sam Houston Bible
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is overseeing the proceedings in the Senate, began the process of swearing in all 31 Texas state senators around 9 a.m. Patrick did so while the senators placed their left hand on the Sam Houston Bible. As state legend goes, Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas, reportedly owned the Bible in the 1800s and gifted it to the Texas Supreme Court.
The court has used the King James Version Bible to inaugurate governor and other elected officials for over 150 years, according to the court’s website.
Early scenes from Austin
Dozens of people were inside the Texas Capitol early Tuesday morning, waiting to secure a seat inside the Senate chamber for the impeachment trial. A limited number of tickets, both needed by the public and media, was being made available for the impeachment trial each day.
In fact, the first media members wanting to get a ticket arrived at 3 a.m., according to WFAA’s Chris Sadeghi, who shared these updates from the Capitol:
The crowd lining up for tickets appear to lean toward support of Paxton, a Collin County Republican. Several in the crowd were wearing matching red t-shirts that with a “Rino Hunting Permit” across the front.
What is Ken Paxton accused of?
The Texas House of Representatives in May voted to impeach Paxton, a Collin County Republican who first took office in 2015. Paxton previously served as a Texas senator and representative.
Paxton’s tenure has seen several legal matters and controversies involving him, including the shadow of a state securities fraud case in which he was indicted in Collin County in 2015. Paxton has yet to face trial in the indictment, though the case has not been closed.
But Paxton’s impeachment centers on his alleged involvement with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who faces eight counts of making false statements to financial institutions.
Paul, 36, allegedly overstated his assets and understated his liabilities to fraudulently obtain loans, according to a 23-page indictment filed by federal prosecutors in June.
Paxton was not mentioned in Paul’s indictment, and he does not face charges in the case.
But Paxton faces 20 articles of impeachment, including disregard of duty, obstruction of justice, constitutional bribery and misappropriation of public resources, many of which are tied to his alleged involvement with Paul.
A document dump from the Texas House impeachment managers earlier this month provided details on how Paxton allegedly abused his office to help Paul, according to the Texas Tribune.
It’s unclear how long the impeachment trial will last, though it could be up to several weeks. It’s also not clear if Paxton will testify.
He is listed as one of several dozen witnesses, but that doesn’t mean he’ll testify.
How does the Ken Paxton impeachment trial work?
It’s important to remember Paxton is facing a political trial, not a criminal trial. So the proceedings might not look like what you’re used to seeing in a courtroom.
First, it is important to know how members of the Texas Legislature will play a part.
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is the presiding officer of the court of impeachment, or judge.
- The lone defendant in the impeachment trial is Warren Kenneth “Ken” Paxton.
- The House Board of Managers are the prosecutors.
- The jury is all members of the Texas Senate who are present and eligible to vote with a “yes” or “no.”
- Angela Paxton, state senator and wife of impeached Ken Paxton, is ineligible to vote due to a conflict of interest. She is required to attend the trial, but may not vote on any matters, motions, questions or participate in closed-session deliberation.
- The senate sergeant at arms will act as bailiff, while the secretary of the senate will serve as the clerk.
Prior to the trial, all pre-trial motions and answers are submitted in writing to Lt. Gov. Patrick. From there, he sends them to a special committee on rules and procedures for court of impeachments. This committee consists of five members who make recommendations on all motions and amendments.
Like in regular trials, Paxton has rights as a defendant. Paxton is required to attend the trial; however, he is not required to take the stand to testify. He or his attorneys may enter a plea, but if a plea is not made, the Senate will move forward with a plea of “not guilty.”
The witness list has been made confidential; however, we do know that no member of the court (senator) or presiding officer may be called or volunteer as a witness – unless the evidence is relevant.
Patrick will swear in each person, and no witness can listen to the testimony of other witnesses. Witnesses cannot talk to each other about the trial and, much like regular trials, cannot read reports, watch television or look at social media.
Witnesses will only be examined by one person on behalf of the other party, and there are strict time limits in place. Both the defense and prosecution have 60 minutes allotted for opening statements and 24 hours of presentations. A witness may only be cross-examined for 60 minutes, and the same amount of time is given for rebuttal evidence per side. If there is a conviction, 15 minutes will be given, per side, to discuss whether Paxton would be disqualified from holding a future position in office.
When it comes to the verdict, there are three main differences between an impeachment trial and a criminal trial. If Paxton is found guilty by the Senate jury, he will be removed from his position in office as the state’s attorney general. He would not be imprisoned. In an impeachment trial, Gov. Greg Abbott cannot pardon Paxton. Additionally, a not-guilty verdict would mean Paxton can return to work. This, however, would not preclude him from facing charges in a court of law. Senators, the jury, will vote on each individual article of impeachment. The vote can only be “yes” or “no” and cannot be changed once they are made. All votes are cast without debate or comment.
https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/special-reports/paxton-impeachment-trial/texas-attorney-general-ken-paxton-impeachment-trial-live-blog-coverage-latest-updates/287-c7dbc1b4-f331-466f-b394-0824e47ad22a Ken Paxton impeachment trial: Live updates, latest news, video