AUSTIN (KXAN) — The impeachment trial for suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton is underway at the Texas State Capitol.
Here are five takeaways from the first day of the trial.
1. Paxton pleaded not guilty to all articles of impeachment
Paxton’s lead lawyer Tony Buzbee spoke on Paxton’s behalf and pleaded not guilty to each article of impeachment.
In May, the Texas House voted 121-23 to impeach Paxton on 20 articles of impeachment. These range from making false statements to obstructing justice to accepting bribes from a campaign donor. The Senate will consider 16 of these articles in the trial.
2. Paxton not compelled to testify
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is also the impeachment trial judge, ruled that Paxton does not have to testify. House prosecutors sought to compel his testimony, but Patrick said they will not be allowed to do so.
3. Senators deny all pretrial motions
With bipartisan votes, Texas Senate members voted to deny 16 motions from Paxton’s lawyers to dismiss articles of impeachment. Senators voted down all of Paxton’s motions, with the motion to dismiss all articles failing 24-6. The motions serve as an early test-vote to gauge the jury’s willingness to consider conviction.
Paxton needs at least 10 senators to side with him to avoid conviction. Only one of his pretrial motion got 10 votes in favor.
4. Attorneys introduce their case in opening statements
Opening statements in the trial began Tuesday after a morning of swearing-ins and pre-trial motion votes.
House impeachment manager Rep. Andrew Murr spoke for the prosecution. He said they are there today because Paxton came to the legislature, asked for $3.3 million for a whistleblower lawsuit settlement, and did not answer questions.
“He failed to protect the state and instead used the power of his office for his own benefit and this was wrong,” Murr said.
Paxton lawyer Tony Buzbee said he believes senators will conclude “there is nothing of significance” in the allegations.
“This case is a whole lot of nothing,” Buzbee said.
5. Paxton’s former right-hand man takes the stand
Former First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer testified on the whistleblower allegations he made against Paxton while working under him. He’s a primary witness for the prosecution to outline the relationship Paxton had with donor Nate Paul, over which Mateer filed an FBI complaint for public corruption.
Mateer’s testimony was cut short during a dispute over the admissibility of a piece of evidence. Patrick adjourned the Court for the evening while attorneys hash out the division. Mateer will take the stand again on Wednesday morning.
During the trial, it was noted that Paxton was not present on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.