The Texas Senate kicked off its trial into the alleged misconduct of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sept. 5.

Paxton pleaded not guilty to all 16 impeachment charges against him, which include bribery, conspiracy, misuse of public funds, retaliation against former employees and more.

The latest

Texas senators denied a motion to dismiss all 16 articles of impeachment with a 24-6 vote, paving the way for a full trial.

The jury also rejected 15 other pretrial motions to dismiss individual articles and exclude certain evidence. Seven Republican senators and all 12 Democrats voted against each motion. Six Republicans voted in favor of Paxton each time, while others voted differently depending on the issue presented.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ruled Paxton cannot be forced to testify during the trial. Paxton’s attorneys requested he be excused from testifying, arguing the trial is a criminal proceeding.

Paxton pleaded not guilty to each impeachment charge. His lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, called the allegations “offensive,” “false” and “completely untrue.”

Paxton is the first statewide elected official in Texas to be impeached and face removal from office in over a century.

The background

The Texas House adopted 20 articles of impeachment against Paxton with a 121-23 vote May 27. Sixteen articles will be discussed during the trial, while four related to Paxton’s ongoing securities fraud case will be left out. He was indicted for securities fraud in 2015.

Paxton allegedly broke multiple laws and misused his office to help a campaign donor, a group of investigators told a Texas House committee May 24. The investigation stemmed from a $3.3 million settlement Paxton reached with former staffers who said they were fired in 2020 after reporting concerns about Paxton's actions to federal authorities.

Following the House vote, the third-term Republican was immediately suspended from his official duties without pay. Senators will decide whether he should remain in office or be permanently removed. They could also choose to ban him from ever again holding other elected state roles.

Support from at least two-thirds of the senators—or 21 votes—will be required to convict Paxton on any impeachment charges later in the trial.

In the meantime, Angela Colmenero is serving as interim attorney general.

Thirty senators will serve as jurors throughout the trial. Paxton’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, must be present for the trial but is not allowed to participate or vote.

Each party is allotted 27 hours of speaking time, including one hour for opening statements, one hour for rebuttals, one hour for closing statements and 24 hours for the presentation of evidence.

Each day of the trial will be open to the public and livestreamed. Click here for more information about how to attend the proceedings.

What they’re saying

Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, laid out the Texas House impeachment managers’ case against Paxton in an 18-minute opening statement.

“Mr. Paxton has been entrusted with great power. Unfortunately, rather than rise to the occasion, he has revealed his true character,” Murr told senators. “And as the overwhelming evidence will show, he is not fit to be the attorney general for the state of Texas.”

Murr described Paxton’s actions as “a slow creep of corruption.” The embattled attorney general abused his office by pressuring his employees to release confidential police documents related to Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, hiring an outside attorney to issue grand jury subpoenas in a criminal investigation and attempting to conceal his alleged misconduct, Murr argued.

Paxton’s attorneys, Buzbee and Dan Cogdell, denounced the prosecution’s claims in a nearly hourlong statement.

Buzbee countered claims that Paxton accepted bribes from Paul, used burner phones and a fake Uber account, and more.

“This case is a whole lot of nothing,” he said.

Convicting Paxton would disenfranchise the millions of Texans who voted for him in 2022, Buzbee argued.

“This is bigger than Ken Paxton,” Cogdell said. “Your decision is literally about democracy in this state.”