The Senate’s impeachment trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton is officially underway, as both sides were given up to an hour to deliver their opening statements.

State Rep. Andrew Murr (R–Junction), who chairs the House General Investigating Committee, used less than twenty minutes, as he reiterated many of the same points he made during the House’s impeachment of Paxton three months ago.

“Mr. Paxton has been entrusted with great power. Unfortunately, rather than rise to the occasion he’s revealed his true character and as the overwhelming evidence will show he is not fit to be the Attorney General for the state of Texas,” said Murr.

A striking moment came when Murr acknowledged accusations from Paxton that many of the House impeachment articles do not allege actual crimes.

“Mr. Paxton argues that the articles do not allege impeachable conduct because they cannot allege that he committed a crime. We do allege that he committed crimes,” said Murr.

“Wrongs justifying impeachment don’t have to be crimes. Wrongs justifying impeachment are broader than that because they have the purpose of protecting the state, not punishing the offender. Mr. Paxton should be removed from office because he failed to protect the state and instead used the power of elected office for his own benefit. And this was wrong,” he continued.

Tony Buzbee, one of the lead attorneys defending Paxton, took his opportunity to call the charges, “a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

“What has been attempted here hasn’t happened in our state in 100 years,” said Buzbee. “This scheme was rushed. It was secret. It was poorly planned and was totally unsupported by evidence.”

“Texans chose in the voting booth who they wanted to be their attorney general. Despite the same baseless allegations that are being made here, but because of what this house has done, only 30 people out of almost 30 million will decide whether Ken Paxton is allowed to serve in the office he was voted into. That’s not how it’s supposed to work,” said Buzbee.

He also took shots at House Speaker Dade Phelan for seemingly retaliatory actions after Paxton accused him of being intoxicated while presiding over the House.

“Speaker Dade Phelan was so drunk running House business. He could barely even hold the gavel, and that drunkenness was on video. It was on the internet for the entire world to see,” said Buzbee. “Four days later, on May 23. Ken Paxton issued a statement and called for Dade to resign. In response, the committee hurriedly met that very next day, conducted a four-hour hearing, and recommended impeachment the day after that.”

The sentiment was echoed by some citizens who showed up to watch the proceedings in person.

“Disgusted. That would be my word. We were hoping for a dismissal. And when your own Senator is voting against the way that you would want them to vote. Especially after you call them and email them, that’s really disheartening,” one attendee told Texas Scorecard.

While each side was given up to an hour, any unused time is added to the 24 hours each side has to present witnesses. The trial is expected to last around three weeks, with a total of 27 hours allotted to each side.

Earlier in the day, senators rejected motions to dismiss the charges, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats in moving forward with the trial.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens

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