The impeachment trial for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton began on Tuesday, as the Republican-controlled state Senate serves as the jury in the case. Paxton, a strong ally of former President Donald Trump, has been charged with corruption, obstruction of justice, bribery, and abuse of public trust. The charges include allegations of granting favors to a real estate developer, using public funds to silence whistleblowers, and directing benefits to an extramarital affair partner.
The impeachment push against Paxton has exposed deep divisions within the Republican Party. Trump and his supporters argue that it is an attempt to subvert the results of the election in which Paxton ran for re-election against George P. Bush. On the other side, more traditional conservatives, including current Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and former Governor Rick Perry, believe in the rule of law and seek to legitimize the impeachment proceedings.
During the trial, Paxton’s lawyers made motions to dismiss some or all of the charges, but none received enough votes. At least 21 out of the 31 Senate members must vote to convict and remove Paxton. His wife, Angela Paxton, serves in the chamber, though she cannot vote or participate. The trial follows traditional legal rules, with both the defense and prosecution presenting opening and closing remarks, presenting evidence, and calling witnesses.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Republican presiding over the trial, ruled that Paxton cannot be compelled to testify. However, more than 100 witnesses, including former associates of Paxton, are scheduled to testify, adding to the political theatrics surrounding the trial.