By Joshua Fechter, The Texas Tribune
““This was the right outcome,” Ted Cruz and other officials weigh in on Paxton acquittal” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
The Texas Tribune is your source for in-depth reporting on the Ken Paxton impeachment trial. Readers make that possible. Support authoritative Texas journalism with a donation now.
“Congrats to [Paxton] on being acquitted of every single article of impeachment,” Cruz wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This was the right outcome, consistent with the will of the voters. I look forward to seeing Paxton back in office, continuing to serve as the most effective conservative AG in America.”
House impeachment managers had accused Paxton of misusing his office to help his friend and donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor, harass and investigate his enemies. But in a series of dramatic votes, senators who had acted as jurors in Paxton’s impeachment trial knocked down each of the 16 charges and reinstated the third-term Republican to his office.
Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been quiet about his feelings on the impeachment trial, struck a neutral tone in the wake of Paxton’s acquittal: “the jury has spoken.”
“Attorney General Ken Paxton received a fair trial as required by the Texas Constitution,” Abbott wrote in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Attorney General to secure the border and protect Texas from federal overreach.”
Republicans in the Texas Legislature took to social media to celebrate Paxton’s acquittal — many praising the Senate’s push under Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to kill the effort while lambasting the House Republican-backed impeachment effort.
“I stood against this witch hunt of an impeachment from day one,” wrote state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, an Arlington Republican who voted against sending impeachment charges against Paxton from the House to the Senate. “I told my colleagues that there was no evidence, but they were threatened and bullied by (House Speaker Dade Phelan) and his lieutenants. Senators had the freedom to vote without being bullied by leadership, and the truth prevailed.”
Other far-right Republicans vowed retribution against the House Republicans who pushed the impeachment inquiry — signaling a coming GOP civil war.
“Speaker Phelan must step down now for empowering this Democrat effort while killing Republican priorities,” said state Rep. Brian Harrison, a Midlothian Republican who also voted against the articles in the House and called for state auditors to probe what state tax dollars had been “wasted” on the effort.
Democrats, meanwhile, lamented the Senate verdict.
“Texas Republicans are in the process of letting indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton off the hook for years of blatant corruption,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a San Antonio Democrat, wrote on X as the Senate took up the articles. “The corruption, incompetence and cruelty of the Texas GOP harms Texans every single day.”
“Is anyone surprised that Texas Republicans let Ken Paxton off the hook for blatant and rampant corruption?” U.S. Rep. Greg Casar, D-Austin, wrote on X. “We can’t expect justice from them. We must #VoteThemOut.”
Texas House Democrats, too, lambasted the outcome.
“Senate Republicans failed to protect the public trust and they will be tied to Paxton’s crimes for the rest of history,” wrote state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat who heads the Texas House Democratic Caucus.
The Texas Tribune Festival is almost here! Join us Sept. 21-23 in downtown Austin for 125+ unforgettable conversations featuring nearly 300 speakers. Be there for Texas’ biggest politics and policy event when you buy your tickets today.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/09/16/ted-cruz-greg-abbott-texas-officials-ken-paxton/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.