USA.- Deliberations began today in the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as the jury of state senators weighs allegations of bribery and abuse of power based on complaints against him by his former senior aides.
Before deliberations, senators – 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats – heard closing arguments from House impeachment managers, led by Republican lawmakers who presided over the trial, and Paxton’s lawyers.
Paxton sat at the defense table and listened in what was his first appearance before the Senate for the trial since entering his not guilty plea on the first day.
From the public gallery, at least three of his former senior aides who testified in the trial sat together and watched the proceedings.
Closing arguments came on the ninth day of the trial at the Texas Capitol and showed two factions of an increasingly divided Republican Party pitted against each other over the fate of an attorney general seen by many of the state’s voters as its conservative defender.
In Paxton’s defense, his lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, argued that the trial – which he said was initiated by “these people” – did not prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard for a trial in the Senate.
Buzbee called the case “a joke” and “a political witch hunt” motivated by rivalries and animosities among Republicans.
“This trial has shown the country a partisan struggle within the Republican Party. It’s a power struggle,” Buzbee said.
Paxton’s supporters, who are closely aligned with former President Trump, sought from the start to portray the trial as a conspiracy by more moderate Republicans to undermine the rise of the party’s conservative wing.
Republicans who support his impeachment, including the majority of the Texas House of Representatives, say Paxton has been held accountable for his actions, regardless of party.