AUSTIN — Attorney General Ken Paxton has pleaded not guilty on all the counts alleged in the articles of impeachment passed by the Texas House.
The embattled attorney general denied the various charges leveled against him during his impeachment trial Tuesday afternoon. As reported by The Dallas Express, the House claimed Paxton abused his office, misled the public, exhibited a dereliction of duty, and undermined the operation of government.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called upon the Senate clerk to go through the articles of impeachment. Paxton was then given an opportunity to plead to each article.
Tony Buzbee, one of Paxton’s lead attorneys, spoke on the attorney general’s behalf, pleading not guilty to every count and periodically professing Paxton’s innocence.
After the first 16 articles were read and responded to, the legal counsel for the House Board of Impeachment Managers objected to Buzbee’s embellishments and commentary. Patrick sustained the objection, and Buzbee limited his subsequent responses to “not guilty.”
Following the pleas, Lt. Gov. Patrick called a slate of witnesses into the chamber and administered the oath to them.
Patrick explained that the witnesses would be sequestered from the courtroom and other witnesses while waiting to be called to testify. They were also ordered not to consume any media related to the trial and to remain in Austin.
The embattled attorney general is the first statewide elected official to be impeached by the Texas House since Gov. James “Pa” Ferguson in 1917. Ferguson was convicted and barred from holding office in the state.
The Senate only has to convict Paxton on one of the articles to remove him from office.
Paxton was impeached by the House in May by a 121-23 vote, as reported by The Dallas Express. The impeachment vote and subsequent trial are among the most historic moments in Texas political history.