Sparks fly as Paxton pleads not guilty

Tensions flared Tuesday morning at Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial as the Texas attorney general pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of official corruption as his state Senate impeachment trial began.

“The allegations are untrue, therefore Ken Paxton pleads not guilty,” his attorney Tony Buzbee told the court.

The counts served as a bulleted list of Paxton’s alleged misdoings and attempts to cover them up.

In broad strokes, the charges state that he used the attorney general’s office to attack the political enemies of Austin realtor Nate Paul and fired deputies who sought to dissuade him.

Further charges alleged that Paul had paid Paxton for this protection — which House investigators said included a special prosecutor to subpoena his business competitors — with a kitchen renovation and a job for his mistress.

Other counts concerned the alleged lengths that Paxton followed in order conceal the evidence of wrongdoing. For example, one count charges Paxton with filing a “misleading” report in defense of Paul, and in opposition to the whistleblowers.

“Attorney General Paxton stands by the report and therefore pleads not guilty,” said Buzbee, a prominent Houston defense attorney who represented former Gov. Rick Perry (R) at his own 2014 trial for abuse of power.

This reaction sparked an objection from Rusty Hardin, a prominent Texas attorney representing the state House impeachment team. 

As the charges were read, Buzbee had offered similar preambles before each not-guilty plea — saying for example that charges around Paxton’s mistress were “flat out false.”

House lawyers complained that Paxton was effectively testifying through his lawyer — despite his client’s refusal to formally testify and impeachment judge Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s (R) refusal to make him do so.

“If [Paxton] wants to take the stand and testify, we welcome that, but otherwise it’s supposed to be from the client,” Hardin said.

Buzbee, he said, “can enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of his client, but he can’t be making speeches.”

Patrick sustained that objection, and Buzbee entered the rest of the pleas as simply “not guilty.”

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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