The prosecution and defense made their closing arguments Friday morning in the impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton, telling wildly contrasting tales of the eight days of witness testimony.
The House impeachment managers insisted that they proved their claims of bribery and corruption, arguing that the jury of 30 senators had no choice but to convict.
“Unlike the public servants here today, he has no regard for the principles of honor and integrity,” said impeachment manager Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction. “He has betrayed us and the people of Texas, and if he is given the opportunity he will continue to abuse the power given to him.”
Paxton’s team said the prosecution’s case was full of holes, circumstantial evidence and misdirection. And they framed Paxton as the victim of a “witch hunt” orchestrated by Texas House leadership, “the Bush dynasty” and insubordinate former deputies-turned-whistleblowers in his office.
Acquittal was the only logical response, they said.
“All of this foolishness that they’ve accused this man of is false,” said Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee. “The question I have in my mind is whether there is … courage in this room to vote the way you know the evidence requires. I think there is. I hope there is. I pray there is.”
The House case centers on Paxton’s relationship with Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, his friend and political donor. The prosecution alleges that Paxton repeatedly abused his office to help Paul investigate his enemies, delay foreclosure sales of his properties, gain the upper hand in a lawsuit with a charity and obtain confidential files on the police investigating him.
The closing arguments ended a nine-day trial during which the House called 13 witnesses and the defense called four. The case is now in the hands of senators. Conviction on any of the 16 articles of impeachment would permanently remove Paxton from office.
See here for the previous update, and read on for the substance of the closing arguments. I’m not about to make any guesses about what might happen. Just remember that one conviction, on any of the counts, means that Paxton is out as AG. A separate vote would be taken to determine if he would be allowed to run for state office again.
As to when we might get an answer to that, the answer is probably soon.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told senators before they left the floor to deliberate on the 16 impeachment articles against suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton that they can return at any time, with at least 30-minutes notice, to vote on each article.
Unless they’re ready to vote, they must deliberate until at least 8 p.m. tonight but can go longer if they want, Patrick said.
If more time is needed, they must return at 9 a.m. Saturday and deliberate until at least 8 p.m. A Sunday session would start at noon through at least 8 p.m., Patrick said.
If senators are not ready to vote by then, Patrick said he could decide to sequester them in the Capitol.
I had originally thought that the Senate might want to adjourn for the weekend to think it over on their own, but that ain’t happening. It’s possible I’ll have to add an update to this later tonight or tomorrow morning if they finish things off. Otherwise, they get to have a lot of together time. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Indeed, the Senate will be back to deliberate more today. They may already be there by the time you read this.