AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Senate ended deliberations Saturday on whether Attorney General Ken Paxton should be removed from office, putting the historic impeachment trial against the Republican on the verge of a verdict.
The panel of 30 senators, most of whom are Republicans, spent about eight hours deliberating behind closed doors. A two-thirds majority is needed to convict Paxton on any of the 16 counts accusing Paxton of bribery, corruption and incapacitation.
Voting should begin shortly What could be a slow, public process?. Each count will be voted on separately. Republicans have a 19-12 majority in the Senate, meaning if all Democrats voted to convict Paxton, they would need nine Republicans to join them.
Paxton’s wife, State Senator Angela Paxton, was required to attend all two weeks of the trial because she is a member of the Senate. But her will have no voice and was excluded from taking part in the deliberations.
This is a recent update. AP’s earlier story follows below.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Deliberations in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton The impeachment trial entered its second day on Saturday as a jury of mostly Republican senators decided whether to convict one of their party’s most powerful figures on corruption charges.
The ongoing closed-door talks led to a rare lack of certainty about how a vote might play out at the Texas Capitol, where a dominant Republican majority usually means results are rarely in doubt.
On Friday, the jury of 30 senators deliberated for about eight hours but did not show up for the historic vote.
The trial has plunged Texas Republicans into unfamiliar waters as they grapple with whether Paxton should be removed over allegations that he abused his office to protect a political donor who was under FBI investigation. If a verdict is not announced by Sunday evening, the senators could be held in the Capitol until a verdict is reached.
The tension has ratcheted up Paxton, whose three terms in office have been marked by scandals and scandals Criminal chargescloser to a crucial test of his political steadfastness after an extraordinary impeachment trial driven by his fellow Republicans and has exacerbated partisan tensions in America’s largest red state. For nearly a decade, Paxton has raised his national profile by plunging his office into polarizing court battles across the U.S., winning the approval of Donald Trump and the Republican hard right.
In a final appeal for the conviction of Texas’ top lawyer, those leading the impeachment trial used their closing arguments Friday to portray him as a crook who must go.
“If we can’t stop public officials from abusing the powers of their office, then frankly no one can,” Republican Rep. Andrew Murr, who led the impeachment trial in the Texas House of Representatives, said in his closing arguments.
If convicted, Paxton would be the first Texas official to be convicted on impeachment charges in more than 100 years. A verdict could come later on Saturday.
In an angry and defiant rebuttal, Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, attacked a wide range of figures both inside and outside the Texas Capitol. He mocked a Texas Ranger who warned Paxton that he was risking prosecution and another accuser who wept on the witness stand.
Buzbee addressed the divisions among Republicans, portraying impeachment as a conspiracy orchestrated by an old guard of Republican rivals. He singled out George P. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush, who defeated Paxton in the 2022 Republican primary challenged, punctuating a sharp closing argument that questioned the integrity of FBI agents and railed against Texas’ most famous political dynasty.
“I would suggest to you that this is a political witch hunt,” Buzbee said. “I would tell you that this process has exposed, for the country to see, a partisan struggle within the Republican Party.”
Paxton returned for his closing arguments after being absent for most of the two-week trial. Across the room sat his wife, State Senator Angela Paxton, who was required to be present throughout the trial but did so excluded from participation in deliberations and votes about her husband’s political fate.
At the heart of the case are allegations that Paxton misused his office to help one of his donors, an Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who was charged in June with making false statements to banks. Paul has pleaded not guilty.
Eight of Paxton’s former deputies reported him to the FBI in 2020, sparking a federal investigation that will continue regardless of the verdict. Federal prosecutors investigating Paxton testified before a grand jury in San Antonio in August , said two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules surrounding the proceedings.
One said the grand jury heard from Drew Wicker, Paxton’s former personal adviser. At the impeachment trial, Wicker testified that he once heard a contractor tell Paxton that he needed to check with “Nate” about the cost of renovating the attorney general’s home in Austin.
During closing arguments, the defense told senators that there was either no evidence to support the allegations or that there was not enough evidence to go beyond a reasonable doubt. In contrast, the House impeachment managers went through specific documents and played excerpts of statements from the lawmakers who reported Paxton to the FBI.
One of the articles of impeachment concerns an alleged extramarital affair Paxton had with Laura Olson, who worked for Paul. It is alleged that Paul’s hiring of Olson amounted to a bribe. she was called to the witness stand but ultimately never stated. Another article claims the contractor also bribed Paxton by paying for renovations to his home.
The verdict will be decided by 30 of the state’s 31 senators, most of them Republicans. A two-thirds majority is required to convict Paxton on any of the 16 charges. So if all twelve Democrats vote to convict, they would need nine Republicans to join them.
Paxton faces a number of legal issues beyond impeachment. next to the Federal investigation He also faces punishment for the same allegations that led to his ouster Disciplinary proceedings for his attempt to overturn the 2020 election and has yet to stand trial in state court Securities fraud allegations from 2015.
He pleaded not guilty in the state case, but his lawyers said impeachment was possible open the door to a declaration of consent.
Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg in Dallas and Jim Vertuno in Austin contributed to this report.