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Paxton trial updates: Closing arguments begin

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Posted at 10:15 AM, Sep 15, 2023

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The historic impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton is underway in the Texas Senate. He faces 16 articles of impeachment that accuse him ofmisusing the powers of the attorney general’s office to help his friend and donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor who was under federal investigation. Paxton pleaded not guilty to all impeachment articles on the trial’s first day. His defense attorneys have vowed to disprove the accusations and said they will present evidence showing they are based on assumptions, not facts.

Closing arguments begin: “He has betrayed us and the people of Texas” Sept. 15, 2023 at 10:01 a.m. Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, began closing arguments Friday morning stating the Texas House did not lightly bring the articles of impeachment against suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton, but discovered “unprecedented abuse.”Paxton must be removed from office, Murr insisted, because he misused the powers of his office to benefit Austin real estate investor Nate Paul.“He has betrayed us and the people of Texas, and if he's given the opportunity, he will continue to abuse the power given to him,” Murr told senators.Murr will have 50 minutes to finish his arguments after the defense.Paxton lawyer Tony Buzbee started his closing arguments by saying prosecutors presented no evidence to prove their allegations.He warned senators that if they vote to remove the Republican attorney general from office: “If it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.”The House impeachment managers’ case was about “supposition, mights, maybes, could have been,” Buzbee said. “It’s about nothing.” –Kate McGeeIn closing arguments, prosecution will have final say Sept. 15, 2023 at 9:45 a.m. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton, laid out rules for state senators as they prepare Friday to deliberate on the 16 articles of impeachment.Both sides will have one hour to provide closing arguments. Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, started with a 10-minute closing argument before the defense will have an hour to present their arguments. The prosecution will then use their remaining 50 minutes to finish. Once deliberations begin, Patrick warned senators that they are allowed to speak only with each other during deliberations and cannot have their phones or open a computer to read the news or talk to anyone else. “You can tell your kids good night or your wife or husband, but you should not read any news, look at any news, open up your computers,” Patrick said. If senators take more than a day to deliberate, they are allowed to sleep outside the Capitol. He noted that Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is not allowed to deliberate or vote due to “spousal conflict,” but noted that the Senate would need to reach a two-thirds vote to convict on any article, meaning at least 21 senators would need to vote yes to convict.Conviction on any article would remove Paxton from office. He was suspended without pay once the House voted for impeachment in late May.Patrick emphasized to jurors that they must consider only evidence submitted in the trial, including the testimony of witnesses, adding that comments by lawyers are not evidence.“This is 16 trials in one. This is not a normal trial,” Patrick told members of the public seated in the gallery Friday morning.Patrick said members of the public will be alerted, via the Texas Senate website, 30 minutes prior to the start of voting. Senators will vote from their desks on each individual motion. – Kate McGeeKen Paxton is in the building Sept. 15, 2023 at 8:57 a.m. Attorney General Ken Paxton strode into the Senate chamber around 8:50 a.m. and took a seat at the defense table next to his lead lawyer, Tony Buzbee. He has not attended the trial since the first day, when he was required by the rules to answer to the 16 articles of impeachment. Even then, Buzbee entered not guilty pleas on his behalf. Paxton did not take the stand in his own defense.His lawyers persuaded the judge, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, to rule that he could not be called as a witness.–Zach DespartPaxton's defense team rests its case Sept. 14, 2023 at 5:06 p.m. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s team rested its case just after 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The defense called just four witnesses in total, all current department heads who currently work at the agency.They had several hours of available time remaining.The defense’s strategy appeared to be to attack individual articles of impeachment rather than refute the prosecution’s narrative of corruption and bribery.Though the rules permitted both sides one hour each to present rebuttal evidence, lawyers for the defense and prosecution said they will move to their closing arguments instead when the impeachment trial resumes at 9 a.m. Friday.— Zach DespartGet the data and visuals that accompany this story →

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