The Texas Senate voted Tuesday to deny all of Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton’s motions to dismiss the impeachment charges against him, clearing the way for a historic trial.
Paxton had each article of impeachment read to him aloud in the chamber afterward Tuesday. Paxton’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee, responded “not guilty” to each count.
House lawyer Rusty Hardin objected to Buzbee’s interjections, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is acting as “judge” of the impeachment trial, sustained.
“Absolutely not guilty,” Buzbee said on the next count.
Paxton, a close ally to former President Donald Trump who led several lawsuits in December 2020 to challenge election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, won reelection in 2022 but was ultimately suspended from office in May when the GOP-controlled House voted, 121-23, to impeach him on 20 articles that range from bribery to abuse of public trust.
Most of the articles deal with Paxton using his office to benefit Austin real estate developer and wealthy donor Nate Paul, prompting eight of the attorney general’s top deputies to report him to the FBI in 2020. Three other charges date back to Paxton’s pending 2015 felony securities fraud case, including lying to state investigators.
Paxton faces trial by a jury of 31 state senators stacked mostly with his ideological allies.
The closest vote Tuesday was along a 20-10 margin.
Patrick ruled that Paxton cannot be compelled to testify. The seven Republican senators who voted against all of Paxton’s pretrial motions to dismiss were Pete Flores, Kelly Hancock, Joan Huffman, Phil King, Mayes Middleton, Robert Nichols and Drew Springer.
Meanwhile, five Republicans – state Sens. Brian Birdwell, Bryan Hughes, Charles Schwertner, Kevin Sparks and Charles Perry – voted for some, but not all, of Paxton’s pretrial motions.
A supermajority of 21 is needed to convict, meaning the Senate requires at least nine Republican voters to convict, assuming all 12 Democrats vote to do so.
Patrick on Tuesday also went over scheduling for the historic impeachment trial. He said it would run from 9 a.m. until at least 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will not continue on Saturday this week, but it could run to Saturday next week. There will be 20-minute breaks every 90 minutes.
The lieutenant governor also emphasized rules that Paxton’s wife, Texas Sen. Angela Paxton, would not get a vote for her husband’s trial.
The Senate was not immediately taking up the three charges related to the 2015 felony securities fraud case or a fourth related to Paxton’s ethics filings in the impeachment trial, according to the Associated Press. Paxton had said he expected to be acquitted and that the charges are based on “hearsay and gossip, parroting long-disproven claims.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.