EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Texas Senate on Saturday, Sept. 16, voted to acquit Attorney General on all articles of impeachment during a nearly two-week trial in Austin.
Senators voted to find Paxton not guilty on every charge, mostly on a 14-16 vote.
Here are what political leaders from around the state are saying:
Gov. Greg Abbott
“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. I look forward to continuing to work with him to secure the border and protect Texas from federal overreach.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
“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. 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 3 months and these 2 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.
“I want to thank 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.
“I want to thank the Senators for doing their work in a thorough, thoughtful, and professional manner. I watched all of you each day listening intently to every word of testimony. Many of you took notes non-stop.
“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.
“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.
“Rep. John Smithee, a long-time House member, spoke on the House Floor during the impeachment vote in May. He was one of only 23 who voted against impeachment. Rep. Smithee said that the House could not legitimately impeach AG Paxton on the record because there was no record to send to the Senate. He said the House was not following the rule of law, and he said the House approach was, and I quote:
“Hang ’em now and judge them later.”
State Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, who served as one of the House impeachment managers
“Sometimes the truth isn’t enough. It’s a lesson I already knew going into this impeachment process, and it proved true today. But because it was and is the truth, I’m proud of the case we laid out.
“Mr. Paxton’s corruption was so evident that the most senior attorneys and law enforcement agents who served under him — some of whom were his personal friends — felt morally compelled to report his crimes and misdeeds. They stood up for the truth knowing it would mean the end of careers they’d given everything for.
“We presented those facts through more than a week of sworn eyewitness testimony and hundreds of pieces of evidence, including thousands of pages of documents, digital metadata, and geolocation information that together proved persistent, brazen abuse of office. The Senate chose to support a defense rooted in wild conspiracy theories that somehow the Biden administration, the Bush family, and some undefined Marxist leftist deep state were conspiring to come after Mr. Paxton. It was absurd.
“What we do know is that one of Mr. Paxton’s own witnesses and current employees testified that the Office of the Attorney General of Texas is Mr. Paxton’s own law firm and that he’s its one and only client. The people of Texas, who that office is actually supposed to represent, will surely regret the Senate allowing that to remain the status quo.
“While I’m profoundly disappointed in the decision that was made today, the House began this trial by invoking the words of Sam Houston: ‘Do right and risk the consequences.’ That’s what I did, and that’s what I’ll continue to do, no matter what.”
State Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso
“As a member of the Texas Senate and Court of Impeachment, I took a solemn oath to follow the Constitution and carefully evaluate the evidence presented before me. With a profound sense of responsibility and a heavy heart, I honored and upheld that oath that guided my decision to sustain 15 out of 16 articles of impeachment. However, the prevailing sentiment among my Senate colleagues led to his ultimate acquittal.
“These votes were historic and consequential, and the gravity of this impeachment trial cannot be overstated. While I disagree with the acquittals based on the evidence presented, we must respect the collective judgment of this body and recommit ourselves to the rule of law and serving the people of Texas.”
Adrian Shelley, Texas director of Public Citizen
“Senators voted today to stick a ‘For Sale’ sign on the attorney general’s office. House impeachment managers and their attorneys presented evidence for two weeks, including sworn testimony from Paxton’s former top aides who witnessed a pattern of alleged corruption and criminality from the attorney general. None of it mattered following a trial from which Paxton was largely absent.
“Public corruption is nothing new in Texas and elsewhere. It continues because people with the power to do something about it choose to look the other way. The people of this state deserve better from their elected officials. Today, enough senators voted to join Ken Paxton in letting Texans down.”
Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Texas Republican Party
“Today, after a trial in which the House could muster no evidence of a crime, the Texas Senate overwhelmingly voted to acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton of all counts. Speaker Dade Phelan and his leadership team should be embarrassed for putting Texas through the time and expense of this political sham of an impeachment.
“We invite the House Republican Caucus to choose leadership moving forward who will unify a Republican governing coalition behind our common goals, instead of sharing power with Democrats who use it to persecute our Republican statewide office holders. We welcome Ken Paxton back to the Attorney General’s Office and anticipate many more conservative victories defending Texas and preserving the America we love for our children and grandchildren.”
Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party
“It’s clear that the fix was in from the beginning, and that as long as Republicans control our government, Republican elected officials won’t face consequences for ethical or criminal offenses. In true Texas Republican fashion, Paxton crime organization beneficiary Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and his Republican minions placed the reputation of their friend and the will of his campaign donors above the rule of law. After eight days of damning testimony detailing corruption, lies, and abuse of power, and thousands of pages of grueling evidence – the Texas Senate voted to acquit Ken Paxton of his crimes and allowed him to retain his office.
“Today, one fact was made abundantly clear to the majority of Texans: there is no justice as long as Republicans remain in control of our state. Ken Paxton did nothing short of weaponizing the Attorney General’s office to benefit his wealthy friend that bankrolled his campaign and subsidized his extramarital affair. And now, our criminally indicted Texas Attorney General will continue his reign as Texas’ top criminal without facing any accountability whatsoever.
“This is an enormously sad day in Texas history. From the start of this trial, Ken Paxton and his defense hid from the truth – and Dan Patrick protected him every step of the way. Leaving out key witnesses such as Laura Olson, and shielding Paxton himself from testifying, denied the public access to the truth of the extent of Paxton’s crimes. In what American judicial proceeding would a judge be allowed to preside over a court while a $2 million campaign loan from the defendant hung over his head? Republicans don’t respect the rule of law – their morals are based on self-enrichment and codifying the suffering of working people.
“Above all else, Texans deserve better. Paxton is not an honest or honorable man. He has brought great shame to the Attorney General’s office and the state of Texas. But make no mistake – as Paxton takes his ‘victory’ lap to Maine with Tucker Carlson – the Texas Democratic Party is focused on recruiting, resourcing and training for candidates and local leaders so that the likes of Ken Paxton are never elected to represent a single Texan again. The campaign to bring justice to the Attorney General’s office, and hold the leaders of the Paxton crime organization accountable, begins today.”
Texans for Lawsuit Reform
“We commend the Texas Legislature for conducting its business on the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton responsibly, openly and according to our constitutional provisions and precedents, after serious questions about Paxton’s actions were raised by his senior staff. This is a confirmation of how Texans resolve even the most divisive issues in a peaceful and deliberate manner.”