Defense attorney Tony Buzbee (L) looks at Attorney General Ken Paxton's phone (R) during the impeachment trial against Paxton, in the Senate at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, USA, 15 September 2023. EFE/EPA/Adam Davis

Ken Paxton, controversial Texas attorney, acquitted in corruption trial

Washington, Sept 16 (EFE).- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a controversial ally of former US President Donald Trump, was acquitted on Saturday in a Senate impeachment trial that sought to remove him for corruption.

After two weeks of deliberations, the Republican majority acquitted Paxton of the 16 charges he faced, including bribery, breach of public trust and unfitness to hold office.

The trial began after Paxton sought $3.3 million (3.1 million euros) in taxpayer funds to settle a lawsuit with former top aides who were fired after reporting the AG’s conduct to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2020.

The whistleblowers accused Paxton of using his office to benefit political friend and campaign donor Nate Paul.

With the ruling, the Texas Senate allows Paxton, who has been temporarily suspended since May, to resume his duties as the state’s attorney general, a position won in popular election.

The impeachment was pushed by Republican lawmakers after years of controversy surrounding Paxton, but the state party leadership and conservative groups pushed for his acquittal.

During the hearings, former employees of the attorney general gave details of how he allegedly used his position to benefit his friend and real estate businessman Nate Paul, who in turn paid for a home renovation and helped him cover up an extramarital affair with a former aide.

The defense called the allegations “offensive” and “completely false.”

His wife, Angela Paxton, a Republican state senator, attended all sessions of the impeachment trial, although she was not allowed to vote to avoid a conflict of interest.

Paxton has also been under investigation by the FBI for corruption since 2015, in addition to being accused of fraud.

Paxton, who was elected for a hird term as Texas attorney general in November, was one of the prosecutors who asked the Supreme Court to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

During his long political career, he has been the protagonist of high-profile controversies, including defrauding investors in the sale of stocks, stealing a luxury pen, and fleeing his home to avoid being served with a court summons. EFE