Jurors Begin Deliberations in AG Ken Paxton's Impeachment Trial

Closing arguments were presented Friday morning in the historic impeachment trial against the state's top lawyer.
Jurors Begin Deliberations in AG Ken Paxton's Impeachment Trial
Attorney Tony Buzbee cross examines witness Jeff Mateer during the impeachment trial for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 6, 2023. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)
Jana J. Pruet

The Texas Senate jury has begun deliberations in the historic impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Capitol in Austin, Texas. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick dismissed the jurors to the deliberation room, where they will be required to remain until they are ready to vote or until 8 p.m.

The jury will vote on each of the 16 articles Mr. Paxton is facing and the vote will be taken on the Senate floor.

"It only takes a conviction on one article to remove the attorney general from office," Mr. Patrick said.

On Friday morning, both sides were given one hour to present their closing arguments to the Senators who will decide Mr. Paxton's fate.

"Everyone of the so-called whistleblowers, which are nothing but disgruntled ex-staffers who hired the same lawyer who just happens to be an Ashcroft law firm who just happens to be a protege of the Bush regime," defense lawyer Tony Buzbee said during his closing argument. "The Bush-era ends today in the state of Texas."

Mr. Paxton attended the proceedings on Friday morning for the first time since the first day of the proceedings, which began on Sept. 5. He was seated between defense attorneys Mr. Buzbee and Mitch Little.

Having the burden of proof, the House was first to present closing arguments.

"When it came to Nate Paul, Ken Paxton abandoned and betrayed his trusted, knowledgable staff, his conservative principles, and his commitment to family values, the law, and his oath of office," House manager Andrew Murr told the jury of senators. "He repeatedly demanded that his top deputies acted as Nate Paul's personal lawyers and not the state's lawyers."

The defense rested their case Thursday afternoon following a full day of testimony from four witnesses who disputed the allegations made against the state's top layer.

If the jury does not return to vote by 8 p.m. on Friday, they will be required to return to the Capitol at 9 a.m. on Saturday and stay until 8 p.m., Mr. Patrick announced before the jury began deliberations. If needed, they senators will return at noon on Sunday.

Rules for the Jury

Mr. Patrick kicked off day nine of the impeachment proceedings for suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton by going over the rules of the trial.

“I want to be sure the media reports it correctly and that the public understands everything we do will be in total transparency throughout this process,” Mr. Patrick said Friday morning.

He went on to add that the House managers must prove that the charges against Mr. Paxton are true and that they justify removing him from office.

Mr. Patrick read each of the articles of impeachment before closing arguments began. Each side was allotted one hour for final arguments.

Thirty of 31 state senators will decide whether Mr. Paxton will return to office or be permanently removed. The senators will vote on 16 of 20 articles of impeachment. Four of the articles were held in abeyance.

Mr. Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, has attended the full trial, but she is not permitted to be involved in the deliberations or vote, per the Senate trial rules.

 State Sen. Angela Paxton, (R-McKinney), wife of suspended Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton, listens to testimony during her husband's impeachment trial at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 14, 2023. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)
State Sen. Angela Paxton, (R-McKinney), wife of suspended Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton, listens to testimony during her husband's impeachment trial at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 14, 2023. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)

A threshold of 21 votes is required to convict Mr. Paxton on any article.

If deliberations extend into the weekend, the jurors will be required to remain in Austin and are barred from watching television or looking at news on their cell phones, Mr. Patrick said. The senators may only answer calls from family members.

Allegations Against Paxton

In May, Mr. Paxton was impeached by the GOP-led Texas House in a vote of 121–23 on accusations including abuse of power, bribery, and other alleged wrongdoings.

Many of the allegations and testimony throughout the trial were centered around Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, whose home and business were raided by the FBI in 2019.

Mr. Paul had filed an open records request from the AOG into the actions of the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which assisted in the search.

House managers accused Mr. Paxton of abusing his power to assist his friend, Mr. Paul. They claimed that the attorney general accepted a home renovation at no cost in exchange for assisting Mr. Paul.

Seven of the eight so-called "whistleblowers" who reported Mr. Paxton to the FBI for alleged wrongdoings testified over the first seven days of the trial.

But Mr. Buzbee provided evidence that the repairs made to the Paxton's home following a storm were paid through an insurance claim.

They also accused Mr. Paul of employing Laura Olson, who allegedly had an extra-marital affair with Mr. Paxton, as a favor to the attorney general.

Mr. Buzbee argued that Mr. Paul hired Ms. Olson to do a job that he said she is still doing.

Ms. Olson was called as a witness on Wednesday morning, but the House failed to provide the required 24-hour notice per the trial rules. She would have been eligible to take the stand at 3:53 p.m., but she was later "deemed unavailable to testify."

Shortly after the announcement, House lawyer Rusty Hardin rested their side of the case.

Jana is an award-winning investigative journalist. She covers news in Texas with a focus on politics, energy, and crime. Jana has reported for many media outlets over the years, including Reuters, The Dallas Morning News, and TheBlaze, among others. She has a journalism degree from Southern Methodist University. Send your story ideas to: [email protected]