Austin, Texas– Texas Attorney GeneralThe trial began Tuesday in the state Senate on 16 charges of bribery, dereliction of duty and neglect of official duty.
He pleaded not guilty to all 16 charges Tuesday morning. Paxton did not attend the afternoon session, which included opening statements from both sides and testimony from the first witness, his former top aide Jeff Matter.Before publicly accusing Paxton of bribery, abuse of office and other crimes.
The GOP-controlled Texas Senate on Tuesday morning rejected all of Paxton’s motions, although Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is leading the investigation, ruled that he could not be compelled to testify.
Republicans hold a 19-12 majority in the state Senate, although Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, was not allowed to vote. However, he sits on the trial but will not serve as a judge.
Paxton has been suspended from office since May when he was impeached by the GOP-controlled Texas House of Representatives. If he is acquitted of all charges against him, he will be reinstated.
If he is found guilty by a two-thirds majority of the Senate on any of the 16 charges against him, he will be removed from office and may be barred from running for office again.
Here’s more information about who Paxton is and why he’s facing a criminal investigation. Read a timeline of key events in the impeachment case.
Who is Ken Paxton?
Paxton is the Republican attorney general of Texas, and since taking office in 2015, has been known as one of the most conservative attorneys general in the country. During the Obama administration, he gained notoriety for suing the federal government and later became a close ally of former President Donald Trump.
Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin contest presidential election results Dec. Paxton led several states to file lawsuits in 2020 — all won by Joe Biden — that were eventually thrown out. He later spoke at Trump’s rally at the Ellipse on January 6, 2021.
Two of Paxton’s previous attorneys general — Rick Perry and Greg Abbott — were both elected governors. Prior to becoming Attorney General, Paxton served in the State Senate and as a Texas State Representative in the Legislature for Collin and Dallas counties.
Two years after Paxton was elected attorney general, his wife,, successfully ran for his former state Senate seat. The couple met while students at Baylor University and now have four children and two grandchildren. The Paxtons often talk about the great influence of their church on their conservative politics.
What is the charge against him?
Ken Paxton has long faced questions about his relationship with real estate developer Nate Ball, who donated to Paxton’s campaign. From milk
Several aides in Paxton’s office came forward in 2020 to engage in legal disputes that benefited Paul and his business, accusing Paxton of assaulting employees. In return, they allege, Paul gave Paxton extensive home renovations — and even hired a woman with whom Paxton allegedly had an affair.
Paxton denies the allegations against him.
According to a report by House impeachment managers who will present their arguments in his state Senate hearing, Angela Paxton and the woman who allegedly had an affair caused a “loud verbal altercation in the cafe” at one point.
Andrew Wicker, one of Paxton’s former top aides, testified to House impeachment managers that before he joined the attorney general’s office in 2019, he heard there was “interference” in the office about his affair.
Wicker told House impeachment managers that “they all got in a room and talked about it, put everything on the table, and I don’t know what was talked about in that discussion.” He added, “It eventually became knowledge with Angela and I knew there was some form of reconciliation there.” But Wicker also testified that he believed the alleged affair had started again.
Wicker testified that there were discussions between Paxton and members of the staff about the 2019 FBI raid of Ball’s home, and although Wicker said he had no “first hand knowledge” of it, there was apparently an attempt to obtain an affidavit for it. The search for milk.
The aide told House impeachment managers that Paul had been asked to deliver a manila envelope that investigators believed contained classified FBI files on Paul.
On another occasion, Wicker testified that while renovating Paxton’s home in 2020, he wanted granite countertops. When told it would cost $20,000, Wicker said Paxton replied, “I’ll check with Nate.” Wicker said it struck him as “odd” because both Paxton and his wife were “very stingy with money”.
Wicker testified that in the late summer and early fall of 2020, at the time of the renewal, “we are spending a large share of our calendar time focused on Nate Ball and those events.”
Wicker resigned amid allegations of corruption in 2020 after testifying that Angela Paxton referred to him as a “second son.”
Four other aides, whom Paxton described as “rogue employees,” filed suit in 2020 claiming they were fired after they presented information about what was happening to the attorney general’s office. On February 10, Paxton announced that the Attorney General’s Office had settled the case for $3.3 million. A few days later, on February 21, Paxton budgeted a line item for $3.3 million to settle the lawsuit with taxpayer money.
House Speaker Tate Bellon opened an investigation into Paxton at the request. On May 23, the House General Investigating Committee made public its inquiry into the proposed settlement with whistleblowers. According to the group, the settlement with the whistleblowers will prevent the investigation and details from becoming public.
The panel recommended 20 charges against Paxton. On May 25, Paxton blasted it as an “illegal impeachment scheme” and his lawyers argued that impeachment proceedings could not proceed because Paxton had been re-elected since the impeachment period.
What happened in the House impeachment hearing?
The Texas House held an impeachment hearing on May 27 as Texas’ legislative session ended. Over the course of several hours, it heard testimony from fired managers and asked questions about the process.
Although Republicans held 22 seats in the Texas House, 60 Republicans joined 61 Democrats in voting to impeach Paxton. 23 Republicans voted to keep him in office.
Five Republicans representing Paxton’s home state of Collin County were among the 60 Republicans who voted for impeachment.
Under the Texas Constitution, an impeached officer is immediately suspended from office without pay. Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed two interim attorneys general since Paxton was fired.
What happens now in the Senate hearing?
Paxton’s impeachment trial is now underway in the state Senate. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will preside over the trial, and 31 state senators will serve as jurors.
Prosecutors plan to release 4,000 pages of evidence at the trial. The Senate agreed to consider 16 of the original 20 articles of impeachment.
Paxton’s wife, who is still a Texas state senator, says she will attend the hearing, but she is barred from participating in any debates or votes.
A two-thirds majority of the senators sitting on any charge requires conviction or impeachment. If Paxton is acquitted of all charges, he will be reinstated.
Has Paxton or his wife spoken publicly since the impeachment?
A gag order has been placed on both sides who spoke to reporters. But the gag order didn’t stop Paxton from raising money, and he said in July that he had raised $1.7 million in the 12 days since his indictment.
Paxton and his wife spoke at a rally for the Collin County Republican Party. He said the gag order prevented him from speaking publicly and instead focused on blaming voter fraud and the media.
“And thanks to the media for coming today. I’m sure they’re here for a good story,” Paxton said. “In fact, if you keep up, you can read that I was responsible for the JFK assassination and 9/11 and everything in between.”
Angela Paxton has announced she will run for re-election.
What was the criminal case against Paxton?
In an unrelated case, a Collin County grand jury indicted him in July 2015 on two counts of first-degree criminal mischief.
Paxton has so far successfully avoided prosecution because the alleged crimes took place before he took office. Paxton has denied the allegations against him.