AUSTIN (Nexstar) – The man who put the gag order in place for the impeachment trial against Attorney General Ken Paxton is speaking freely now and answering critics. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is defending the Texas Senate’s process as “unbiased” while slamming the House’s initial decision to impeach in late May.

In a one-on-one interview, Patrick responded to claims that Republican senators’ decision to acquit their former colleague was influenced by politics and money. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal said “the fix was in from the start.”

“Anyone that criticizes that process, well, that’s on them because we did it right,” Patrick told Nexstar in a one-on-one interview. He said presiding over the trial was “the most interesting and most challenging thing I’ve ever done.”

Senators voted to find Paxton not guilty on every charge, mostly on a 14-16 vote. Patrick said after hearing the evidence he did not expect Paxton to be convicted, but he wasn’t sure of acquittal.

“I didn’t think they would convict on many charges, but I thought maybe one or two possibly so I had to be prepared for that.”

Only two Republicans — North Texas’ Kelly Hancock and Jacksonville’s Robert Nichols — voted to convict Paxton on any of the charges. All other Republicans voted to find Paxton not guilty on every charge and Democrats voted guilty on almost all articles of impeachment. Paxton was immediately reinstated as attorney general following the verdict, after months of suspension once the House impeached him in late May.

Dick DeGuerin, one of the prosecutors who worked on behalf of the House impeachment managers, spoke with Nexstar after the verdict. The longtime defense attorney condemned outside conservative groups which he said tried to influence the outcome throughout the trial.

After the House impeached Paxton, Republican members were quickly met with opposition from Paxton supporters and early primary challenges.

“They were being threatened with money for primary opponents…if a grand jury were threatened like that, it would be a crime,” DeGuerin said. “I thought the senators would have enough courage to fight what they know would be retribution by those right-wing militant wealthy donors.”

Before the trial began, Defend Texas Liberty — a conservative political action committee led by former state Rep. Jonathan Stickland — gave $3 million to Patrick. The PAC sent text messages to GOP voters, urging them to call their senators to stop the impeachment trial before it began.

In his interview with Nexstar, Patrick said he is already beginning to fundraise for his 2026 campaign for reelection since Texas lawmakers are prohibited from taking campaign donations during the legislative session.

“You raise the money when you can,” Patrick said, noting that his last campaign cost between $25 to $30 million. “You can’t wait till the last day to raise it, you start raising money, you know, a couple of years in advance,” Patrick said.

“No one who gets a campaign donation, that that impacts how they vote on something, you know, there is a certain level of integrity,” he said. “Something else that didn’t impact [senators], on all the noise on the outside.”

Patrick noted he has also accepted campaign donations from Texans for Lawsuit Reform — which further-right conservatives have criticized for pushing impeachment against Paxton, although the group says those accusations are false — which the lieutenant governor also acknowledged in Nexstar’s interview.

“I don’t think they had anything to do with the impeachment, but I want to be clear, a some of their members felt like there should be a trial,” said Patrick about Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

After the Senate voted to acquit Paxton on 16 articles of impeachment and tossed out the remaining four related to his ongoing securities fraud indictment, Patrick gave a blistering speech from the dais, slamming Speaker Dade Phelan and the House for what he believes was a rushed process.

Phelan fired back in response via a statement, calling into question Patrick’s ability to manage the trial in an impartial manner.

“I find it deeply concerning that after weeks of claiming he would preside over this trial in an impartial and honest manner, Lt. Governor Patrick would conclude by confessing his bias and placing his contempt for the people’s House on full display,” Phelan said. “To be clear, Patrick attacked the House for standing up against corruption. His tirade disrespects the Constitutional impeachment process afforded to us by the founders of this great state.”

Patrick continued to blast the House to Nexstar, saying its members “totally ignored” impeachment precedent.

“When the speaker says that, then he questions my integrity. There is no bias. I ran a fair trial. There was no bias with the members, no matter what outside pressure they were getting,” Patrick said. “They voted how they believe, and I respect those who voted for conviction, Republican or Democrat and those who did. And he’s just very defensive right now because he knows his process is now in the spotlight, and it’s an embarrassment.”

Turmoil between the top leaders is not anything new. The top Republicans have acknowledged publicly that their relationship is fractured, most notably when the House and Senate couldn’t strike a deal on property tax reform, which led to a months-long standoff and two special sessions. But Patrick said he is not concerned about the tension affecting the expected upcoming special session on education issues.

“Tensions between the speaker…myself don’t matter. There were tensions between this speaker the session, and we passed the largest tax property tax cut in history, and many other really significant bills. Politics is tough,” he said.

Earlier in August, a House interim committee suggested a tapered-down version of an education savings account — one of Governor Greg Abbott’s policy priorities that would allow parents to use public dollars to send their children to private school. Patrick said the Senate won’t accept a “watered down version,” and called out rural House Republicans who have been opposed to a voucher system.

“It’s time the Republicans in the House quit blocking this bill,” he said. “The Governor and the Speaker have to come to an agreement.”