Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial marches into its second week Monday with more witnesses taking the stand, following the dramatic testimony from the first slate of Paxton’s former deputies who reported his alleged wrongdoing to the FBI.
The historic proceedings began Sept. 5 with state senators who will decide the suspended attorney general’s fate hearing from whistleblowers who believed their boss was misusing his position to benefit a political donor, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul.
Testimony, perhaps from more of the former employees, will likely pick back up on Monday when the trial resumes. Attorneys for the House impeachment managers were still calling witnesses when the trial paused for the weekend Friday.
Paxton was impeached in the Texas House in late May with 20 articles including disregard of official duty, making false statements in public records, constitutional bribery, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and attempted conspiracy, misapplication of public resources, dereliction of duty, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust.
He is accused of giving Paul special attention and legal help while accepting favors like home renovations and a job for a woman with whom Paxton was having an extramarital affair.
Paxton has denied wrongdoing. He did not attend last week’s proceedings except for the start of the trial’s first day.
You can watch the trial live on star-telegram.com, follow major developments and read daily analysis of the politics and repercussions of Paxton’s impeachment.
What to expect when the trial resumes Monday
Senators, who are acting as jurors, could hear from more of the whistleblowers who reported Paxton to federal law enforcement. There are eight in total, four of whom sued the Attorney General’s Office over allegations of retaliation.
They could also hear from other people connected to the allegations in the articles of impeachment, such as a Paul or women with whom Paxton is accused of having an affair. Both were on a list of possible witnesses obtained by The Dallas Morning News.
Dick DeGuerin, one of the attorneys for the impeachment managers, declined to comment on the trial’s second week, citing a gag order. Paxton’s attorneys did not immediately return an email requesting comment.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ruled at the trial’s start that Paxton cannot be compelled to testify.
How does the trial work?
Attorneys for the House impeachment managers and Paxton each have a set amount of time to present evidence before making their closing arguments. Cross examination is allowed.
Once both sides are done making their case, senators will deliberate on whether to convict Paxton. The Senate is made up of 19 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Twenty one votes are needed to convict, which means nine Republicans would have to vote with Democrats to convict Paxton.
There’s no time limit on deliberations.
Paxton could be removed from office and barred from seeking office, which observers say could substantially alter Texas politics for years to come.
“The only times we’ve seen wholesale, major political change in Texas have been because of some major scandal that rocks one party or another,” Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor, previously told the Star-Telegram. ”This scandal has the possibility of dramatically changing the course of the Republican Party’s reign in Texas.”