Paxton has been accused of abusing his power as attorney general, particularly in a case involving a powerful political donor whom the Texas official protected despite the FBI’s investigation. Ken Paxton was also one of the prosecutors who asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
“Today the truth prevailed. The truth could not be buried by the mud politicians or their powerful benefactors,” the southern state’s current attorney general said in a statement.
The ruling by the Texas judiciary allows Paxton, for now, to continue in his post, which he has held since 2015 and which has come under criticism in the legislature within the Republican Party, which the prosecutor has described as a “witch hunt.”
Paxton’s ouster came after the Republican-majority Texas Congress voted in May to prosecute the attorney general for corruption crimes and “securities fraud.” The FBI has also launched an investigation against the Texan, which continues despite the September 16th decision.
The trial, which began Sept. 5, used 16 articles of impeachment to accuse Paxton of wrongdoing during his time in office, highlighting in particular a possible cover-up involving Nate Paul, a wealthy Republican donor who was under federal investigation.
Former US President Donald Trump, on the other hand, appeared satisfied with the court’s decision through a publication on his TruthSocial profile and described the process as a “very big victory”, but at the same time congratulated Paxton on the positive opinion.
Doubts about the process
The verdict acquitting Paxton of the allegations did not please everyone.
After the decision was announced, Democratic Senator Roland Gutiérrez criticized the legal process used to conduct the prosecutor’s case, describing the Texas justice system as a “broken and corrupt system” that would protect Paxton from the allegations.
“A broken and corrupt system allowed Ken Paxton to abuse the powers of his office (…) Republicans in Texas decided that the corruption and lies of people like Ken Paxton were OK with them,” Gutiérrez said.
The impeachment trial was conducted by the Texas Senate, with members of that legislature having to vote for or against convicting Paxton of any of the articles he was alleged to have violated. Although it took at least 21 votes from the state’s 31 senators to impeach him, no article reached even 14 votes.
“Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted in this impeachment trial,” said Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who also criticized the proceedings as “rushed” and lacking “transparency.”
One of Donald Trump’s closest allies in the US judiciary will remain in office despite criticism within Republicans on the eve of an election year in which US courts will play an important role in preserving democracy in the country.