Timeline leading to the acquittal of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial

By | September 17, 2023

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A timeline of events leading up to the acquittal of three-term Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton during his impeachment trial in the state Senate. The trial began on September 5 and concluded on September 16. The overwhelming impeachment vote in May by the GOP-controlled Texas House of Representatives suspended the 60-year-old Paxton from office.

The acquittal allows him to resume his duties as attorney general.


Paxton takes over as attorney general after more than a decade in the Texas Legislature. He is indicted on securities-related charges by a grand jury in his hometown near Dallas, accused of deceiving investors in a technology startup. He pleads not guilty to two crimes, but there has yet been no trial. Paxton opens a legal defense fund and accepts $100,000 from an executive whose company was under investigation by his office for Medicaid fraud. An Arizona retiree donates $50,000 to the fund and Paxton later hires the donor’s son for a high-ranking job that ends with his firing after the man displays child pornography in a meeting.


Many of Paxton’s top aides tell the FBI they feared the attorney general was abusing the powers of his office to help wealthy Austin donor and real estate developer Nate Paul with a struggling real estate empire. The FBI opens an investigation and searches Paul’s house. Paxton and his lawyers have denied any wrongdoing. Paxton, who is married to a state senator and has earned a national profile as a crusader for conservative Christian lawsuits, tells staffers he had an affair with a woman who, it later emerged, worked for Paul . In a deposition, Paul says he hired the woman on Paxton’s recommendation. The eight aides who reported Paxton to the FBI are fired or fired, and four later sue under the Texas whistleblower law.


Paxton agrees to settle the whistleblower lawsuit for $3.3 million in taxpayer money, which requires legislative approval. Justice Department officials in Washington take control of the corruption investigation, taking the case away from federal prosecutors in Texas.

23 MAY 2023

Members of a Republican-led House General Investigations Committee reveal that a corruption investigation into Paxton has been going on quietly for months.

24 MAY 2023

The committee’s investigation accuses Paxton of committing multiple crimes in office, including felonies. The charges cover myriad allegations related to his dealings with Paul, including alleged attempts to interfere in foreclosure lawsuits and improperly issuing legal opinions to Paul’s benefit, as well as firing, harassing and interfering with staff who reported what he it was happening. The bribery charges stem from Paul allegedly employing the woman Paxton was having an affair with in exchange for legal assistance, and Paul allegedly paying for expensive renovations to one of Paxton’s homes. Paxton broadly denies any wrongdoing. The panel concluded Wednesday’s hearing without following up on its findings and without saying whether a recommendation to impeach or censure Paxton was possible.

25 MAY 2023

The commission unanimously recommends that the state’s top lawyer be impeached on 20 counts including bribery, unfitness for office and abuse of public trust.

26 MAY 2023

The House committee says it was Paxton’s request for state funds to settle the whistleblower lawsuit that led to the impeachment recommendation. The $3.3 million payment must be approved by the House, and Republican Speaker Dade Phelan says taxpayers should not foot the bill. Paxton calls on his supporters to protest when the full House of Representatives begins impeachment proceedings against him. He calls the proceedings “political theater” that will “inflict lasting damage on the Texas House,” adding to his previous claims that it is an attempt to disenfranchise the voters who returned him to office in November.

27 MAY 2023

The 149-member Texas House of Representatives votes to impeach Paxton. In Texas, an impeached official is automatically suspended from office pending a Senate trial.

JUNE 21, 2023 The Republican-controlled Texas Senate decides to try Paxton on 16 of 20 impeachment charges starting September 5. The Senate refused to accept three articles of impeachment relating to securities fraud charges against Paxton and a fourth relating to his ethics records. The 31 senators include many of Paxton’s ideological allies and his wife, Senator Angela Paxton, who is allowed to attend the trial but cannot participate or vote. Two other senators present played roles in the charges against Paxton. The Senate is made up of 12 Democrats and 19 Republicans. A two-thirds majority – or 21 senators – is required for conviction.


Paxton’s impeachment trial begins in the Texas Senate.

SEPTEMBER 15, 2023

After concluding arguments from the House impeachment managers and Paxton’s defense lawyers, Texas senators begin deliberating 16 articles of impeachment and whether to remove him from office.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2023

The Senate ends deliberations and votes to acquit Paxton on 16 of the 20 articles of impeachment. The other four charges were dismissed. The acquittal clears Paxton to return to office after a three-month suspension.

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