Trump and Others React to Ken Paxton’s Impeachment Acquittal

A flurry of reactions—both positive and negative—followed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s acquittal on all impeachment charges in the state Senate.
Trump and Others React to Ken Paxton’s Impeachment Acquittal
President Donald Trump gestures alongside Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton (L) in Dallas, Texas, on June 11, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

A flurry of contrasting reactions has followed news that a jury of state senators on Sept. 16 voted to acquit Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on all 16 articles of impeachment.

Mr. Paxton, who was reelected to a third term in November 2022, was impeached by Texas’s GOP-led House on allegations of bribery and abuse of power.

It was alleged that Mr. Paxton—who called the impeachment a political witch hunt—used his office to help Austin, Texas, real estate developer Nate Paul, who was under federal investigation. Mr. Paul was recently indicted on federal charges of making false statements to banks; Mr. Paxton wasn’t mentioned in the indictments.

Mr. Paxton’s impeachment led to his suspension from the Office of the Attorney General of Texas (OAG).

After eight days of testimony, Texas state senators voted on Sept. 16 to acquit Mr. Paxton on all 16 articles of impeachment, opening the door to his reinstatement at the OAG.

“Today, the truth prevailed. The truth could not be buried by mudslinging politicians or their powerful benefactors. I’ve said many times: Seek the truth! And that is what was accomplished,” he said in a statement after the acquittal.

Mr. Paxton’s acquittal was met with an outpouring of reactions on social media—both positive and negative.

Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton (C) stands between his attorneys Tony Buzbee (front) and Dan Cogdell as the articles of his impeachment are read during his impeachment trial in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol in Austin on Sept. 5, 2023. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)
Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton (C) stands between his attorneys Tony Buzbee (front) and Dan Cogdell as the articles of his impeachment are read during his impeachment trial in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol in Austin on Sept. 5, 2023. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)

‘Disgraceful Sham’ and Other Reactions

Soon after news broke of Mr. Paxton’s acquittal, former President Donald Trump weighed in, congratulating him and criticizing the impeachment trial.

“Congratulations to Attorney General Ken Paxton on a great and historic Texas sized VICTORY. I also want to congratulate his wonderful wife and family for having had to go through this ordeal, and WINNING,” President Trump wrote on social media.

He also thanked Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who served as a judge in the trial, and Republican state senators, who the former president said showed “great professionalism and fairness.”

At the same time, President Trump singled out for criticism Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, who in a statement of his own lamented the decision to acquit Mr. Paxton as “extremely unfortunate,” pointed out that Mr. Paxton is still the subject of multiple lawsuits and investigations, and said he had “clearly abused his power, compromised his agency and its employees, and moved mountains to protect and benefit himself.”

President Trump called on Mr. Phelan to “resign after pushing this Disgraceful Sham.”

Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan in the House Chamber at the Texas Capitol in Austin on May 26, 2023. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)
Texas Speaker of the House Dade Phelan in the House Chamber at the Texas Capitol in Austin on May 26, 2023. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)

In his statement, Mr. Phelan said that, during the Senate impeachment trial, extensive evidence was produced attesting to Mr. Paxton’s “corruption, deception, and self-dealing.”

“It is extremely unfortunate that after hearing and evaluating this evidence, the Texas Senate chose not to remove him from office,” he said.

Mr. Phelan noted that the Senate’s refusal to remove Mr. Paxton from office isn’t the end of the matter.

“Ken Paxton is the subject of multiple other lawsuits, indictments, and investigations,” he said. “If new facts continue to come out, those who allowed him to keep his office will have much to answer for.”

But some of Mr. Phelan’s Republican colleagues took an opposing view.

More Reactions

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) congratulated Mr. Paxton on the acquittal.
“Congrats to [Mr. Paxton] on being acquitted of every single article of impeachment,” Mr. Cruz wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This was the right outcome, consistent with the will of the voters. I look forward to seeing Paxton back in office, continuing to serve as the most effective conservative AG in America.”

Mr. Paxton is widely viewed as one of the most prominent U.S. legal conservatives, taking up issues in defense of religious liberty, the Second Amendment, and the right to life.

Tony Buzbee, Mr. Paxton’s attorney, said in an earlier statement obtained by The Epoch Times that the impeachment was a baseless attack by political foes seeking to hamstring a formidable opponent who championed various conservative causes.

“This is about silencing conservatives, eliminating an effective political opponent, and overturning an election,” Mr. Buzbee said.

By contrast, Rick Wilson, who co-founded the Lincoln Project, a political action committee established by former Republicans opposed to President Trump, criticized Mr. Paxton’s acquittal.

“Ken Paxton is quite near the peak of public corruption in America, and the Texas Senate GOP just let him walk. So much for personal responsibility and the rule of law,” Mr. Wilson wrote on X.

Mr. Patrick said he would call for an audit of taxpayer money spent during the impeachment process.

“Millions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this impeachment,” he said after votes were cast in the impeachment trial.

“I’m going to call next week for a full audit of all taxpayer money spent by the House from the beginning of their investigation in March to their final bills they get from their lawyers.”


Mr. Paxton had been under FBI investigation for years over accusations that he used his office to help Mr. Paul, an Austin real estate developer and donor.
In October 2020, a number of top deputies in Mr. Paxton’s agency told the FBI that they believed the attorney general had used his office to help Mr. Paul, who had donated $25,000 to Mr. Paxton’s reelection campaign in 2018.

All of the whistleblowers resigned or were fired, with their allegations leading to a federal investigation into Mr. Paxton.

The Department of Justice later took over the investigation, charging Mr. Paul on June 6 with making false statements for the purpose of influencing the actions of financial institutions on applications for loans.

No federal charges have been filed against Mr. Paxton.

About a half dozen former employees of the OAG filed complaints against or sued Mr. Paxton for wrongful dismissal, claiming that he ousted them in retaliation after they reported him to federal authorities.

The allegations relating to Mr. Paul were a major part of the 16 articles of impeachment filed against Mr. Paxton, including bribery and abuse of public trust.

After about a year of investigating the whistleblowers’ claims, Mr. Paxton’s office issued a report that refuted them.
Later, an outside law firm hired by Mr. Paxton’s office to carry out a follow-up investigation found that he didn’t break any laws or violate office procedure when he fired several staffers who later accused him of wrongful dismissal and retaliation.
A report (pdf) recently released by the outside law firm, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, found that there was “significant evidence to show the actions of the OAG toward the Complainants were based on legitimate, non-retaliatory, business grounds.”
The law firm’s findings accorded with the conclusions of an earlier OAG investigation (pdf) that refuted each of the former employees’ and political appointees’ allegations and called for a deeper probe into the matter.
Mr. Paxton is only the third sitting official in Texas’s nearly 200-year history to have been impeached.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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