Paxton defense calls charges ‘foolishness,’ House argues AG ‘betrayed us’ in closing impeachment arguments

Suspended Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton, center, stands with his attorneys Tony Buzbee, front, and Mitch Little, rear as his impeachment trial continues in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol, Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

AUSTIN, Texas – The House Managers and Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawyers have both rested their cases on Thursday after hours of testimony that lasted eight days.

Paxton’s team called four witnesses in total, all current department heads who currently work at the agency.

They had several hours of available time remaining.

In an angry and defiant rebuttal, Paxton lawyer Tony Buzbee unleashed attacks on a wide-ranging cast of figures both inside and outside the Texas Capitol, mocking a Texas Ranger who warned Paxton he was risking indictment and another accuser who cried on the witness stand.

Leaning into divisions among Republicans, Buzbee portrayed the impeachment as a plot orchestrated by an old guard of GOP rivals. He singled out George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush who challenged Paxton in the 2022 Republican primary, punctuating a blistering closing argument that questioned the integrity of FBI agents and railed against Texas’ most famous political dynasty.

“I would suggest to you this is a political witch hunt,” Buzbee said. “I would suggest to you that this trial has displayed, for the country to see, a partisan fight within the Republican Party.”

Also during closing arguments, the defense told senators there was either no evidence for the charges or that there wasn’t enough to rise beyond a reasonable doubt. The House impeachment managers, by contrast, walked through specific documents and played clips of testimony by the deputies who reported Paxton to the FBI.

The last word of closing arguments came from one of Paxton’s former friends, Republican state Rep. Jeff Leach, who said he “loved” his onetime political mentor and that they attended church together. Still, he told senators, Paxton deserved punishment.

Paxton faces 16 articles of impeachment that accuse him of misusing the powers of the attorney general’s office to help his friend and donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor who was under federal investigation.

Each side had up to one hour to make closing arguments. Following that, senators began deliberations just before noon.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the proceedings, said the jury should prepare to go through the weekend.

“Whether you deliberate a short time, mid-time, long time, we’ll stay here through Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday — until you’ve made a decision on every article that you’re prepared to come invoke. So, from this moment forward, no off days until the trial deliberations and the decision is given,” Patrick said.

He added that no phones, laptops or outside communication will be allowed by the jurors during deliberations. If the jurors take more than one day to deliberate, Patrick said he will allow them to sleep outside of the Capitol, but they will not be allowed to speak to anyone about the trial, search the web or look at the news.

The 30 eligible senators will consider 16 of the 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton, including his request to dismiss all articles.

After deliberations, the 30 eligible senators will return to court to vote separately on each article. They will then submit a written vote on the question: “Shall this article of impeachment be sustained?” The court clerk will then read each article and read how each senator voted. Two-thirds majority of the chamber — or 21 of the 31 senators — must vote against Paxton to secure a conviction.

If the Senate convicts Paxton, he will be removed from office and then they will vote to decide whether he should be permanently barred from holding office. That would also require a two-thirds majority or 21 votes.

If Paxton is acquitted on all articles, he would be cleared to return to office.


DAY 8: AG Paxton’s defense rests their case; closing arguments expected Friday

Day 7: House rests their case; Woman AG Ken Paxton allegedly had affair with ‘deemed unavailable to testify’

Day 6: Credit union CEO says Nate Paul allegedly benefited from AG opinion; Houston attorney says Paxton ‘misled’ him

Day 5: Whistleblower said he feared Attorney General Ken Paxton was being blackmailed by Nate Paul

DAY 4: Private texts, whistleblower memes revealed during AG Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial

DAY 3: Suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton impeachment trial

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