DOJ Threatens Texas With Lawsuit

Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton reads a statement at his office in Austin, Texas, Friday, May 26, 2023. An investigating committee says the Texas House of Representatives will vote Saturday on whether to impeach state Attorney General Ken Paxton. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

In a historic decision, Texas state senators have acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton on all 16 counts in his impeachment trial. After more than seven hours of deliberations, the senators announced their decision on Saturday morning, clearing Paxton of all accusations of corruption and wrongdoing.

The decision was met with both relief and applause from Paxton's supporters, who had been following the trial closely. In a statement released by his office, Paxton expressed gratitude to the senators for their decision and stated that he was committed to continuing to serve the people of Texas.

The impeachment trial centered on allegations of Paxton misusing his powers as attorney general to benefit his friend and donor, Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor. Prosecutors argued that Paxton repeatedly abused his office to help Paul with various legal and financial matters, including using his position to help Paul delay foreclosure sales of his properties and obtain confidential files on the police investigating him.

However, Paxton's defense team successfully argued that the case against him was full of holes, circumstantial evidence, and misdirection. They portrayed Paxton as the victim of a "witch hunt" orchestrated by Texas House leadership, the "Bush dynasty," and insubordinate former deputies who turned whistleblowers.

In his closing remarks on Friday, impeachment manager Rep. Andrew Murr, a Republican lawmaker from Junction, Texas, stated that Paxton had "betrayed the people of Texas" and urged the senators to find him guilty. However, Paxton's attorney, Tony Buzbee, countered that the evidence presented was insufficient to convict his client and pleaded with the jurors to have the courage to vote according to the facts.

Despite Murr's argument that the jury had no choice but to convict Paxton, the senators ultimately decided to acquit him after completing private deliberations on Saturday morning. They had previously heard eight days of witness testimony, which included former Paxton aides and associates testifying against him.

Paxton's acquittal is a significant victory for him and a blow to the Texas House Democrats who had been pushing for his impeachment. It also marks a major defeat for his opponents, who have been calling for his resignation and accusing him of using his office for personal gain.

The decision is also likely to have political implications, as Paxton is already facing re-election in 2022 and had been expected to face a difficult primary challenge from Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Some political analysts suggest that the impeachment trial may have actually helped Paxton's standing within the Republican Party by positioning him as a victim of a political witch hunt.

In response to the verdict, the White House released a statement saying that they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the outcome of the trial. They had previously threatened to sue Texas if the state moved forward with a new anti-illegal immigration law, SB 4, signed by Governor Greg Abbott earlier this month.

Governor Abbott's office has responded to the threat, stating that they are prepared to "take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court" if necessary to protect Texans and Americans from President Biden's "open border policies." The legal battle is the latest clash between Abbott and the Biden administration over the illegal immigrant crisis at the border, with both sides accusing the other of failing to address the issue adequately.

Considering the multiple legal battles and tense political climate in Texas, Paxton's acquittal will undoubtedly have ripple effects in the state and beyond. It remains to be seen how Paxton's legal troubles and personal controversies will impact his political career in the future. However, for now, he can breathe a sigh of relief as he continues to serve as the attorney general of Texas.

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