Embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pleaded “not guilty” Tuesday through his attorney during the first day of his state Senate impeachment trial.
“The allegations are untrue; therefore, Ken Paxton pleads not guilty,” The Hill reported attorney Tony Buzbee telling the court.
Paxton is facing 16 corruption charges by the Texas House in May by a vote of 121-23, which include his alleged efforts to attack the political enemies of Austin realtor Nate Paul, taking a bribe from Paul for protection, then engaging in activities to cover the wrongdoing, the report said.
Four other articles of impeachment approved by the Texas House are being “held in abeyance” relating to allegations of security fraud in 2015.
Paxton is in his third term, easily winning a GOP primary and general election in 2022 with 53.4% of the vote thanks partly to the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, the New York Times reported.
The Times report said that Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick presided over the impeachment trial and told the 31 state senators acting as a jury in the case not to use any media coverage of Paxton as a basis for their deliberations.
Texas law allows the Senate to vote on its rules for the proceeding and adopted the rules for the Paxton case 24-6.
The Texas Tribune reported that Patrick ruled that Paxton does not have to testify in the case and that the House must prove him guilty of the charges “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard used in criminal cases.
“The House managers have repeatedly compared actions of the House of Representatives to a grand jury as they prefer the articles of impeachment,” Patrick said in the report. “Grand juries are utilized only in criminal cases.”
In addition to presiding over the impeachment trial, Patrick has the authority to issue subpoenas and compel witnesses to appear and testify, the report said.
Earlier, the senators voted 24-6, including 12 fellow Republican members, to reject Buzbee’s summary judgment motion to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.
They also voted 22-8 rejecting a pretrial motion to exclude evidence gathered before 2023, according to the Tribune.
The report said that 21 of the 31 senators must vote to oust Paxton for him to be removed from office.
Charles Kim ✉
Charles Kim, a Newsmax general assignment writer, is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in reporting on news and politics.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.