The Texas Senate voted on Saturday to acquit suspended attorney general Ken Paxton of all charges leveled against him after the state House impeached him back in May.
Paxton has been on trial in the Texas Senate for two weeks over allegations of corruption and abuse of public office. The House team responsible for prosecuting the case against the attorney general alleged Paxton did favors for Austin real estate developer and campaign backer Nate Paul as Paul was being investigated by the FBI.
Paxton stood trial on 16 articles of impeachment that each required a two-thirds majority to pass in a Republican-controlled chamber. He was not convicted on any of the charges brought against him.
Attorney Tony Buzbee defended Paxton general during the trial, which Paxton was largely absent from except for the opening and closing arguments. Buzbee said that the case against Paxton was being pushed for political reasons.
“This is a political trial,” Buzbee said, according to the Associated Press. “I would suggest to you it’s a political witch hunt.”
The impeachment managers alleged that Paxton accepted bribes from Paul, one in the form of an agreement to hire Paxton’s alleged mistress. Paul also allegedly renovated Paxton’s home. In exchange, Paxton allegedly aided Paul when he was under investigation by the FBI.
Prosecutors brought in various former members of Paxton’s office and staff to testify against the attorney general. Several former prosecutors who worked for the attorney general reported Paxton to the FBI in 2020 over the attorney general’s connections with Paul.
“He hasn’t even bothered to be here for the whole trial,” Republican state Rep. Andrew Murr said in the trial’s final day. “Clearly he thinks he might get away with this.”
Paxton’s alleged mistress, Laura Olson, was expected to testify on Wednesday, and was one of the most anticipated voices of the trial. She arrived at the Capitol on Wednesday during the trial, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversaw the trial, announced that Olson was “unavailable to testify” in a statement that he said both sides had agreed upon.
Paxton’s wife, Republican state Sen. Angela Paxton, watched the trial from her seat in the chamber but was barred from participating and voting in the verdict because of her conflict of interest.