Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s political fate is in the hands of the state Senate, which will continue private deliberations in the Republican’s impeachment trial Saturday after ending Friday without taking a public vote on 16 articles of impeachment.
The state Senate began deliberating just before noon Central time Friday after House impeachment managers and the attorney general’s defense attorneys delivered their closing arguments. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told the senators that deliberations would resume Saturday at 9 a.m. CT if the body was not prepared to publicly vote on the articles by Friday night.
“I have no idea how long the jury is going to deliberate. It could be hours; it could be days,” said Patrick, who presided over the trial.
While Patrick had ordered the body to deliberate until at least 8 p.m. CT, some members of the chamber were seen starting to leave the Capitol grounds around 7 p.m. CT. CNN has reached out to Patrick’s office for comment.
The two-week trial at the Texas State Capitol in Austin reached its end Friday when both the House impeachment managers and Paxton’s legal team were given one hour each for closing arguments. Paxton appeared on the state Senate floor for the first time since entering his not guilty pleas on the trial’s first day.
“He may claim to be one of us. But unlike the public servants here today, he has no regard for the principles of honor and integrity,” Republican state Rep. Andrew Murr, the chair of the House impeachment managers, said Friday morning.
Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, meanwhile, described the House’s case as “a joke,” motivated by fractures within the Republican Party, which dominates all branches of Texas government.
“The only evidence we have in this case is they don’t like Ken Paxton,” Buzbee said.
To remove Paxton from office, 21 of the 30 senators eligible to vote – Paxton’s wife, Angela, is a state senator but cannot vote – must find the attorney general guilty of at least one of the 16 articles of impeachment, most of which stem from allegations that he abused his office to benefit friend and donor Nate Paul. Murr said Paxton had “allowed Nate Paul to infect the office.”
Patrick said reporters and members of the public would receive at least 30 minutes’ notice when senators have reached verdicts.
He instructed senators to avoid discussing the impeachment trial outside their deliberations or considering any information other than what was presented during the trial – including avoiding media coverage.
“You may not look at television. You…