AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is back on the job as the state's top law enforcement officer. The Texas Senate acquitted him on all 16 articles of impeachment on Saturday.
Two weeks of testimony and political theater in Austin came to a close over the weekend, ending only the third impeachment trial Texas had seen in 100 years.
“The big winner on Saturday was Ken Paxton. Now he is back in office and I think stronger than ever,” KHOU 11 political analyst Mark Jones said. “Twenty impeachment articles, ranging from bribery and corruption to abuse of public trust, threatened to end Paxton's political future.”
“This trial painted an accurate and clear picture of an out-of-control attorney general who refused to listen to the desperate warnings of his conservative lawyers that he had entrusted to help run his office,” House manager and Texas Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction) said after the verdict.
But every Republican senator except for two disagreed and voted to acquit. KHOU political analyst Brandon Rottinghaus said the House Board of Managers fell short in proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“They had no smoking gun,” he said. “And ultimately, in order for there to be a conviction on a case like this with a high-profile attorney general, you needed that smoking gun."
With the trial over, the man who presided over it -- Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick – shared what he really thought about it all when he blasted the House.
“We should amend the Constitution on the issue of impeachment as currently written that allowed this flawed process to happen,” he said after the verdict. “Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment.“
Paxton spent Sunday on social media, calling it a new day in Texas, thanking God and President Trump for his support through the impeachment. Now, those Republicans who tried to get Paxton out of office could be facing political retribution.
“You also have to worry about how the Office of Attorney General may affect your legislative priorities or perhaps your business interests over the next few years,” Jones said.
Politically, Paxton may be in a stronger position, but the attorney general is still facing legal trouble, including a possible federal investigation and felony criminal charges here in Harris County. He's due back court here in Houston in October.