UNITED STATES NEWS

Texas AG Ken Paxton is back on job after acquittal but Republicans aren’t done attacking each other

Sep 17, 2023, 12:08 AM | Updated: 4:20 am

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Newly acquitted of impeachment charges, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is back on the job and getting back to the usual.

Promises to keep dragging the Biden administration into court. Support from former President Donald Trump. And coming soon, a sit-down with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

As Paxton on Sunday begins his first full day back in office after winning acquittal in the Texas Senate over accusations of corruption and bribery, the Republican is quickly resuming what has long helped make him one of the most resilient political figures in the U.S. despite years of criminal charges and alleged scandal.

At the same time, the verdict is inflaming rifts within the GOP surrounding his impeachment in the first place.

The fallout in the Texas Capitol is likely only beginning and threatens to spill into the 2024 elections, when conservative allies of the Trump-backed attorney general say they will target Republican legislators who led the investigation against Paxton.

Even the very act of impeachment in Texas could get a second look after Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presided over the trial, called for new guardrails in a fiery speech questioning how the case made it this far.

On the other side are Republicans in the Texas House, where Paxton was overwhelmingly impeached and suspended from office in May. Its members bristled at Saturday’s verdict and the criticism leveled by the lieutenant governor.

“The inescapable conclusion is that today’s outcome appears to have been orchestrated from the start, cheating the people of Texas of justice,” Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan said.

Paxton, 60, was absent for most of the trial and was not in the Senate for his acquittal on 16 articles of impeachment. He issued a statement blasting his impeachment as the work of a “kangaroo court” and promoted an interview he plans to give this week with Carlson.

“I’ve said many times: Seek the truth! And that is what was accomplished,” Paxton said.

The trial was a showcase of sober testimony and occasional spectacle. In accusing Paxton of abusing his office, former advisers recounted how Texas’ top lawyer allegedly pressured them to help a political donor who was under FBI investigation. The testimony included arguments over who paid for home renovations, whether Paxton used burner phones and how his alleged extramarital affair became a strain on the office.

Paxton denied wrongdoing and his attorneys argued there either was no evidence or wasn’t enough to rise beyond a reasonable doubt. They portrayed Paxton as the victim of a plot orchestrated by Republican rivals and waved to political conspiracies involving George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush, who unsuccessfully challenged Paxton in last year’s GOP primary.

Paxton was endorsed in that race by Trump, who reaffirmed his support in the waning days of the trial and applauded the verdict. “The Ken Paxton Victory is sooo BIG. WOW!!!” Trump posted on Truth Social, his social media platform.

More than three months after the overwhelming impeachment in the Texas House, where Republicans have a solid majority, Paxton was just as convincingly acquitted by Senate Republicans who serve alongside his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton.

Angela Paxton was not allowed a vote in the trial. But she attended all two weeks of the proceedings, including one dramatic moment when a woman was called to publicly testify about an affair she had with the state senator’s husband.

The woman ultimately never took the witness stand, but her relationship with Ken Paxton was central to a case accusing him of going to potentially criminal lengths to help a local real estate developer named Nate Paul, who was under FBI investigation at the time.

Democratic state Sen. Nathan Johnson described nearly eight hours of deliberations among the 30 senators as a hard and seemingly sincere process.

“And then it collapsed,” he said.

Johnson said it eventually became clear there would not be enough votes to convict, which may have led some senators to change their minds.

“When enough people fall away from conviction, it exposes any remaining Republican to very strong attack from the right,” Johnson said. “We reached the wrong result and it was the result of political pressures.”

The outcome is not the end of Paxton’s troubles. He still faces trial on felony securities fraud charges, remains under a separate FBI investigation and is in jeopardy of losing his ability to practice law in Texas because of his baseless attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

Eight of Paxton’s former deputies reported him to the FBI in 2020 over his relationship with real estate developer Paul, setting off a federal investigation that is ongoing. Federal prosecutors investigating Paxton took testimony in August before a grand jury in San Antonio, according to two people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of secrecy rules around the proceeding.

Paul was indicted in June on charges of making false statements to banks. He has pleaded not guilty.

Dan Cogdell, one of Paxton’s attorneys, said the securities fraud charges the attorney general still faces should be dismissed.

“If they don’t dismiss them, we’ll try them and beat them there just like we beat them here,” he said.

___

Associated Press writer Jake Bleiberg in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

___

Find AP’s full coverage of the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at: https://apnews.com/hub/ken-paxton

United States News

Associated Press

Chicago shooting kills 7-year-old girl and wounds 7 people including small children, police say

CHICAGO (AP) — Eight people were shot including a young girl who was killed in what Chicago police believe was gang-related violence on the city’s South Side on Saturday night. The 7-year-old girl was shot in the head and died, while a 1-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy were each shot multiple times and listed […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

A jury of his peers: A look at how jury selection will work in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s history-making criminal trial is set to start Monday with a simple but extraordinary procedural step that is vital to American democracy. A group of regular citizens — Trump’s peers, in the eyes of the law — will be chosen to decide whether the former president of the United States […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities say 4 people are dead after a train collided with a pickup in rural Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Four people are dead after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a train in rural Idaho Saturday, authorities said. Idaho State Police said the pickup was carrying a 38-year-old man, 36-year-old woman and two children, who were all from Nampa. The vehicle was traveling on a private road […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman with history of DUIs sentenced to 15 years to life for California crash that killed mom-to-be

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California woman with a history of convictions for driving under the influence has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for a crash that killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman and left her baby in critical condition. Courtney Pandolfi, 44, pleaded guilty to second degree murder earlier […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Utah school board member who questioned a student’s gender loses party nomination for reelection

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A conservative Utah State Board of Education member who faced calls to resign after lawmakers said she bullied a student on social media lost her nomination for reelection Saturday. Natalie Cline needed at least 40% of the delegate votes at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, but she fell short […]

12 hours ago

An Iranian demonstrator chants slogans while attending an anti-Israeli gathering at the Felestin (P...

Associated Press

The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first direct military attack against Israel on Saturday, prompting internal discussion among U.S. leaders.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Texas AG Ken Paxton is back on job after acquittal but Republicans aren’t done attacking each other