Texas AG Ken Paxton acquitted on 16 articles of impeachment

On Saturday, the Texas Senate acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton on 16 articles of impeachment that they considered related to bribery and corruption. 

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick put the blame on the Texas House, essentially saying the articles should never have been presented. 

Scott Braddock with the Quorum Report joined FOX 7 Austin's Rebecca Thomas to discuss.

REBECCA THOMAS: Scott, I said considered it because the Senate only took up 16 of the House's 20 articles of impeachment. What happened to the other four? 

SCOTT BRADDOCK: Well, I've heard some of the folks who are defending the acquittal say that there was no smoking gun. If that's true, if they didn't see one, it's because the smoking gun was put in a drawer right at the beginning of all this, because the Senate did not even consider those allegations that had to do with securities fraud. That, of course, is a subject of a criminal trial. That's going to play out for Paxton coming up soon in Houston. And the Senate just dismissed those out of hand.

REBECCA THOMAS: You've had a long history covering Patrick and Paxton. Do you think the impeachment trial in the Texas Senate was just a show, especially with Patrick statement at the end? 

SCOTT BRADDOCK: Here's the most important figure about all this. $3 million. That was a donation made by Paxton supporters to Lieutenant Governor Patrick right before the trial. And believe me, they got their money's worth on one ruling after another. The lieutenant governor wasn't just putting his thumb on the scale in favor of Paxton. He was putting his whole body on the scale and jumping up and down on it to try to get a good result for Paxton. Paxton didn't have to testify because of a Patrick ruling. The alleged mistress did not have to testify because of a Patrick ruling. Nate Paul, the investor at the center of all this, did not testify either. And at the very end, you had the lieutenant governor tell the senators that if they didn't have a quick verdict on this, which and in this situation, a quick verdict probably meant an acquittal. The lieutenant governor said the senators would actually be locked in the Capitol today on Monday if they had not already come up with a decision. And so you saw them hurry up. 

REBECCA THOMAS: Well, based on all the testimony that was heard during this trial, what is the likelihood that Paxton would have been removed from office had he been a Democrat? 

SCOTT BRADDOCK: It does look really political, doesn't it? I would say that one of the stories here and there are a lot of stories out of this, a lot of angles, as we say in the news business. But one of the stories is that, look, you had a Republican who was almost policed by his own party. If this was Donald Trump at the national level, as you know, in the national impeachments, it's usually it's always the Democrats going after the Republican or vice versa. Now, you have Republicans talking about trying to impeach President Biden. But here in Texas, this was an intra party fight within the Republican Party. And you still have a lot of Republicans who believe that Paxton should not be in office. So this is something that's going to cause some hard feelings going forward for sure within the GOP. 

REBECCA THOMAS: This isn't the end of Paxton's troubles. You mentioned he's still under investigation by the FBI. He is going to be going to trial on two counts of securities fraud. How soon could that happen? 

SCOTT BRADDOCK: There's a hearing coming up in Houston in October where we may get some indication of what the schedule is going to be for that trial. But we don't know exactly how that's going to how long that's going to take. It could take years for all that to play out. But the walls may be closing in. There's that prosecution in Houston, a federal grand jury in San Antonio. If folks think it's over for Paxton, legally, it's not. 

REBECCA THOMAS: One last question. The governor, a governor, lieutenant governor, rather, made good on his promise this afternoon, calling for an audit of house spending. Is this going to further divide the two chambers? 

SCOTT BRADDOCK: Absolutely. And this comes at right before Governor Abbott is set to in just a couple of weeks, call another special session this year, this having to do with school vouchers. And look, the House was not in the mood to pass those anyway. But now you have the House and Senate at odds as they have ever been. I was talking to some veterans of the political process over the weekend and I asked have the lieutenant governor and the speaker in the last few decades, whoever they were, have they ever been at this at each other's throats as they are now? And, of course, the answer was no.