The historic process of impeachment Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton entered its defining stage with state senators weighing a potential impeachment against an ally of former President Donald Trump and one of the Democrats' most fearsome sticks in the Lone Star State.
This Friday, nine days into the process, deliberations began on a potential impeachment of historic caliber, and it is still unclear what the 19 Republican senators who are ultimately the ones who will define Paxton's fate will decide.
The dilemma of these senators is to join the 12 Democrats who will almost certainly vote against Paxton or if, on the contrary, they acquit the attorney general of the charges against him.
Paxton, in total, is charged with 20 articles of impeachment, which include charges of alleged bribery, abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The accusations against the attorney general were made by his former senior aides, who had already denounced the facts in 2020 when the attorney general reached a settlement for $ 3.3 million with the plaintiffs.
Before starting the deliberations, the senators heard the final arguments of those in charge of the political trial in the House of Representatives, which last May decided by a large majority (121-31) to initiate the impeachment process.
"The defense isn’t that he didn’t do it, it’s that it doesn’t matter because he won the election," Rep. Andrew Murr, a West Texas Republican leading the case against Paxton, said in his plea. "That is a godless, rudderless morality, and it cannot be the new normal in Texas."
In defense of the attorney general, his lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, argued that the impeachment process and the evidence presented by witnesses had failed to prove the allegations against Paxton beyond a reasonable doubt.
At one point, Buzbee went further, calling the impeachment a "joke" and a "witch hunt" spearheaded by a perceived moderate wing within the Republican Party.
"This trial has displayed, for the country to see, a partisan fight within the Republican Party,"
Buzbee said. "It’s a battle for power."
For Paxton to be removed from office, two-thirds of senators must vote for any of the 16 articles of impeachment now under consideration. The attorney general has been suspended without pay since May when the process began.
According to The New York Times, no timetable was set for the deliberations, which are being held behind closed doors.
However, Lieutenant Governor and Senate President Dan Patrick acted as a judge in the impeachment trial and "set forth rules including that senators could not communicate with their staff or bring cellphones in to the deliberation room," the NYT reported.
The lieutenant governor also said that the senators would deliberate until 8:00 p.m. on Friday and that they would return on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. if they did not reach a verdict.
While the deliberations continue their pace, conservative media, such as The Federalist, report an alleged collapse of the impeachment due to the inability of witnesses to admit crimes.
"A week and a half into the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the case against the conservative fighter is falling apart in spectacular fashion," The Federalist reported Thursday. "Witness after witness, all called by the House Board of Managers, have testified under oath that they either have no direct evidence against the attorney general or explained that the articles of impeachment were simply untrue."
The outlet noted that prosecutors called Drew Wicker, a former personal assistant to Paxton, to testify.
This former assistant attorney general had told investigators in the case "that an Austin-based businessman had paid for renovations to Paxton’s Austin residence, which forms the basis for impeachment Article 10."
However, Wicker admitted "on the stand that he had never seen any agreement between the two men and even testified that he had not and would never accuse Paxton of bribery," said the conservative media, which is critical of the controversial impeachment process.
If Paxton is eventually impeached, it would be the first since 1917 that the Texas Senate has voted to sentence an elected state official, when Gov. James "Pa" Ferguson was convicted. .