Paxton’s legal team, state politicians react to not guilty verdict in impeachment trial

AUSTIN, Texas – The victory for Attorney General Paxton was not even close, it was overwhelming and it also was filled with much emotion especially afterwards from both sides with what took place in there.

“We are proud of the case we put on, we shouldn’t have had to prove our innocence but that is what we did,” said lead attorney for Ken Paxton, Tony Buzbee.

Buzbee described his mindset coming into Saturday.

“I was as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs, we didn’t know, there was no leaks, we had no idea how the jury would vote. All we were focused on is trying to put on the best case we could,” he said.

Dan Cogdell, another member of Paxton’s defense team, described how he felt about the proceedings.

“It was joke, for us to who have to go through with this...that is Ken Paxton and his family, as well as the Senators and everyone else. is just a shame,” he said.

“We heard the Lt. Governor explain to the media before trial that this is not a civil trial, it is not a criminal trial. It was a political trial and at the end of the day you have to understand we provided all the evidence that you would in a formal trial encased and wrapped up in a political trial,” said Andrew Murr, Chair of the House Managers.

Murr said he wouldn’t have handled the hearings in the House any differently.

“I would not do anything differently, the house acted pursuant to its rules statutes and the constitution,” he said.

RELATED: Texas senators reach not guilty verdict in AG Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial

As for attorney general Ken Paxton, he was silent throughout the course of this trial but he did issue a statement following the verdict saying he was happy that the truth prevailed also adding that he viewed this entire process as a sham.

Other Texas politicians have also issued statements following the not guilty verdict.

State Senator Paul Bettencourt issued the following statement:

“Impeachment is the penultimate act of how to resolve political discourse in American Democracy and in Texas, per our State Constitution. It is important that any such impeachment begins with the foundation of evidence that the jurors, the Texas Senate, can use to make a decision beyond a reasonable doubt to remove any elected officials after a vote of the public in an election. Due to the fact that the Texas House of Representatives sent the Texas Senate Impeachment articles in the last week of the regular session to the Senate on very short notice, my estimation is the members of the Senate alone have spent over 700 days of members’ time developing rules, preparing for trial, listening to evidence, and casting our votes. Unlike Federal impeachments where the US House of Representatives takes evidence from witnesses under oath and allows cross examination, the Texas House avoided this key step. I agree with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick that the Texas Constitution should be amended to avoid this from happening in the future. This is the reason why I voted against all pre-trial motions. By a minimum of 16 votes on 16 articles, Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr. is returned the Attorney General’s Office, the job the voters of the great State of Texas elected him to. I want to commend all my fellow members of the Texas Senate, our presiding officer, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, all our staffs and participants. The Texas Senate’s long summer of dedicated service to the citizens of Texas now comes to a close, and may God bless Texas!”

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick also issued this statement:

“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.”

Rep. Andrew Murr, the Chair of the House Investigating Committee, said on the House floor:

“This [The House] is not the body that does the fact finding, the fact-finding occurs in the Senate and oath for any witness would occur there.”

“That is just not true. As Rep. Smithee said, the last House impeachment of a statewide-elected official, in 1917 of Gov. Ferguson, was conducted like a full trial in the House before it was sent to the Senate. Witnesses were put under oath and cross examined by the defendant. Rep. Smithee said this time, no House witnesses were put under oath and the defendant was denied the right to cross examine. Rep. Smithee told his fellow members the House process was indefensible and that the House did not follow the rules of evidence and their case was based on triple hearsay that would never be allowed in court.

“I think Rep. Smithee’s speech was one of the most honest and courageous speeches I have ever heard in the House.

“In the next regular session, we must amend the Texas Constitution on the issue of impeachment, because the way the constitution is currently written allowed this flawed process to happen this year. Any testimony given in a House impeachment investigation must be given under oath and the target must be allowed to be present with a lawyer to cross examine the witnesses. Otherwise, people can say anything without any accountability or need to be truthful because there is no threat of perjury.

“The House must also give all House members a minimum of 2 weeks to review all evidence given under oath before voting on such a serious matter. Had they done these two things in May, this trial may never have happened.

“When the House sends articles of impeachment to the Senate, the official in question should not be put on unpaid leave through the process. The federal system does not allow that. President Clinton and President Trump did not have to step down from their duties during their impeachment process. This is not a partisan issue.

“We owe it to future legislatures to make these changes so that no future official impeached by the House, whether Republican, Democrat, or Independent, is subjected to the way this impeachment process occurred.

“Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment. 31 Senators and a large Senate staff that made this trial possible have put their family life, jobs, and businesses on hold for 3 months after being here already from January to June.

“I will call for a full audit of all taxpayer money spent by the House from the beginning of their investigation in March to today. We will provide our costs as well that were forced on us by the House impeachment. One big difference is that the Senate did not pay a huge team of outside lawyers and investigators.

“An impeachment should never happen again in the House like it happened this year.”

The Texas Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan, also released this statement:

“Over the last two weeks, the Texas House Board of Managers provided the Texas Senate and the people of Texas extensive evidence of Ken Paxton’s corruption, deception and self-dealing. It is extremely unfortunate that after hearing and evaluating this evidence, the Texas Senate chose not to remove him from office. Moreover, I find it deeply concerning that after weeks of claiming he would preside over this trial in an impartial and honest manner, Lt. Governor Patrick would conclude by confessing his bias and placing his contempt for the people’s House on full display. To be clear, Patrick attacked the House for standing up against corruption. His tirade disrespects the Constitutional impeachment process afforded to us by the founders of this great state. The inescapable conclusion is that today’s outcome appears to have been orchestrated from the start, cheating the people of Texas of justice.

“This impeachment was set in motion because Ken Paxton requested millions of taxpayer dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by conservative, senior employees who Paxton himself recruited to his office. These brave individuals were willing to sacrifice their reputations and careers to fight against the misconduct they witnessed, which included abuse of power, corruption, allegations of bribery, and allowing Nate Paul to act as the de facto Attorney General of Texas.

“The House General Investigating Committee’s subsequent investigation into the merits of the settlement produced more than enough damning evidence to warrant impeachment. The impeachment process exists not to punish the offender, but to determine whether they have abused their power so egregiously that they are unfit for office and their removal is in the best interest of the state. It is unfortunate that the outcome of this process will ultimately relinquish control of the state’s top law enforcement agency to an individual who, I believe, clearly abused his power, compromised his agency and its employees, and moved mountains to protect and benefit himself.

“The Senate’s refusal to remove Ken Paxton from office is, however, not the end of this matter. Ken Paxton is the subject of multiple other lawsuits, indictments and investigations. If new facts continue to come out, those who allowed him to keep his office will have much to answer for.

“I extend my utmost thanks to the House Board of Managers and their legal team for their diligent work on this matter, and to each of the 121 House Members who bravely acted in the best interest of this state by voting to advance the articles of impeachment. It was a difficult vote to take, but not a difficult decision. And unlike others, they chose principles over politics. I stand with them in full support of their decision and recognize the sacrifices they made in the name of doing what is right. Because of them, Texans had the ability to hear the evidence in a public trial, as the founders of this great state intended.”


About the Authors:

Journalistic bulldog focused on accountability and how government is spending your dollars. Husband to Wonder Woman, father to a pitcher and two Cavapoos. Prefers queso over salsa.

Christian Terry covered digital news in Tyler and Wichita Falls before returning to the Houston area where he grew up. He is passionate about weather and the outdoors and often spends his days off on the water fishing.