Texas Senators voted to acquit Paxton on all 16 articles against him, which included allegations of bribery and abusing his office on behalf of his friend and campaign donor Nate Paul.
Four other articles against him that were tabled for the trial.
Paxton himself was not in the Senate chamber as the Republican-dominated Senate shot down the charges, not meeting the 21-vote threshold needed to remove Paxton from office.
The Texas Senate consists of 12 Democrats and 19 Republicans, meaning at least 9 Republicans would have needed to vote for the popular conservative attorney general's removal.
Only two Republican senators consistently sided with the Democrats, Sen. Robert Nichols from the Nacogdoches area and Sen. Kelly Hancock from Fort Worth.
Most votes were 16 nays and 14 yays.
Six Republican senators who were allowed to vote in the trial, Paul Bettencourt, Donna Campbell, Joan Huffman, Phil King, Tan Parker and Drew Springer are up from re-election this Spring.
Angela Paxton, the attorney general's wife, is also running for re-election, but was barred from voting by the trial's rules.
Paxton has been suspended from office since this May, when the House overwhelmingly passed the impeachment articles 121-23. He will retake office as attorney general immediately.
Paxton's attorney, Tony Buzbee, said the attorney general is ready to get back to work.
He still faces legal troubles in other matters.
Federal investigators are looking into several of the claims that led to the impeachment trial against him.
He also faces a bar disciplinary proceeding over his push to overturn the 2020 election and has yet to stand trial on state securities fraud charges out of Collin County which date back to 2015.
Paxton pleaded not guilty in that case, but his lawyers have said that if he is removed from office he might be open to a plea agreement. He faces five to 99 years in prison in that case if he is convicted.
2:55 p.m. | State Senator Angela Paxton tweets a celebratory Bible quote following her husband's acquittal.
2:10 p.m. | House Speaker Dade Phelan, who was directly criticized by Paxton's lawyers during the trial, calls Paxton's acquittal "extremely unfortunate" and says of Dan Patrick, who criticized the House's process, "To be clear, Patrick attacked the House for standing up against corruption."
2:06 p.m. | Read Attorney General Paxton's statement here:
1:44 p.m. | Watch comments from Paxton's legal team here:
1:39 p.m. | Watch Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's comments following the acquittal of Ken Paxton:
1:28 p.m. | Gov. Greg Abbott gives his reaction to the results of the trial:
1:26 p.m. | Paxton's attorneys call the acquittal a "complete vindication" of the attorney general.
1:18 p.m.| State Senator Angela Paxton hugged Paxton's defense team after the session was dismissed. The attorney general was not present at the trial.
1:08 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Patrick calls for a complete report on the money spent by the House managers investigating Paxton.
1:04 p.m. | Patrick is being very critical of what he considered a rushed process in the House that led to Paxton's impeachment. The House passed the impeachment articles against Paxton 121-23. He calls for an amendment to the impeachment process in the Texas Constitution.
1:00 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Patrick puts comments into the record for future legislators if an impeachment comes up again.
12:56 p.m. | The Senators vote 19 to 11 to dismiss the other 4 articles. An overwhelming victory in the Senate for Paxton on Saturday.
12:51 p.m. | The Senators are now voting to dismiss the 4 articles of impeachment that were tabled in the trial.
12:46 p.m. | With one final 14 yay to 16 nay vote Paxton is acquitted on all charges.
12:42 p.m. | 14 yays, 16 nays yet again. Paxton is acquitted on Article XIX. Only one more vote to complete acquittal for the suspended AG.
12:35 p.m. | Another 14 yay to 16 nay vote from the Senate jurors. Paxton has been cleared of 14 of the 16 articles against him.
12:30 p.m. | Another acquittal for Paxton. It looks like the House impeachment managers were only able to move 2 of the 9 Republican votes they needed for a conviction. Another 14 yay to 16 nay vote.
12:25 p.m. | Paxton survives on Article XVI as well. 14 yays and 16 nays again, with Nichols and Hancock joining Republicans. The articles with the specific allegations are done, it is almost certain that Paxton will be acquitted at this point.
12:19 p.m. | Another acquittal for Paxton, this time on Article XV. 14 yays and 16 nays again, with Republicans Nichols and Hancock joining the Democrats.
12:14 p.m. | Article X, which is about Paul providing renovations to Paxton's home is also rejected. The defense had proof of a wire payment to a contractor for the work on the home. The prosecution contended it was only sent after the whistleblowers filed their report. The Senators vote it down with 14 yays and 16 nays. 21 yays are needed for a conviction. So far, Paxton has been acquitted on all articles.
12:06 p.m. | The article on the alleged hiring of Paxton's mistress is the first vote directly along party lines. 12 yays to 18 nays, Paxton is acquitted again.
12:01 p.m. | 8 yays and 22 nays on Article VIII. Republican Senator Robert Nichols votes ya, several Democrat Senators vote nay.
11:55 a.m. | Another 14 to 16 vote, another acquittal for Paxton, this time on Article VII. Nichols and Hancock again side with the Democrats. Paxton has been acquitted on all 7 articles so far.
11:51 a.m. | The OAG whistleblowers look on as the article about their termination is rejected in the Texas Senate.
11:49 a.m. | The vote for Article VI is 14 yays to 16 nays. Paxton is acquitted on Article VI as well. Nichols and Hancock again stand with the Democrats, there isn't much variation in the votes at this point.
11:46 a.m. | Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Fort Worth) is one of the voters consistently siding with the Democrats on the articles of impeachment. He was elected to the Texas Senate in 2012.
11:43 a.m. | Paxton is also acquitted on Article V. This time by a vote of 13 yays to 17 nays. The only Republican senator to vote yay was Sen. Kelly Hancock.
11:36 a.m. | Article IV is overwhelmingly rejected. 2 yays to 28 nays. Only Democrats Borris Miles and Roland Gutierrez, who is running for U.S. Senate to unseat Ted Cruz, voted yay. Paxton has been acquitted on all 4 articles brought up so far.
11:31 a.m. | Another 14 yay to 16 nay vote, with just Nichols and Hancock siding with Democrats again. Paxton is acquitted on Article III as well.
11:25 a.m. | Paxton is also acquitted on Article II. 14 yays and 16 nays again. Nichols and Hancock side with the 12 Democrats again.
11:18 a.m. | The first article is shot down with 14 yay and 16 nays. Republicans Robert Nichols and Kelly Hancock are the only 2 Republicans to join the 12 Democrats. Paxton is acquitted of Article 1 which concerns the alleged interference in the Mitte Foundation lawsuit against Nate Paul.
11:11 a.m. | The Senators have entered the chamber. The vote is about to begin.
11:04 a.m. | Paxton has served as the Attorney General of Texas since January 2015. Angela Colmenero, Gov. Greg Abbott's deputy chief of staff, was named to serve as the interim attorney general in July. She took over the duties from John Scott, the former Texas Secretary of State, who served from May 31 to early July.
10:58 a.m. | If Paxton is removed from office he would be the first statewide official in Texas to be impeached and removed since then-Governor James "Pa" Ferguson in 1917.
10:52 a.m. | State Senator Angela Paxton, the wife of Ken Paxton, has been on the floor. She is required to be in attendance, but is not allowed to cast a vote or take part in deliberations under the rules of the trial.
10:48 a.m. | Paxton himself has not been seen so far. Friday was the first day that he was in the Senate chamber since Day 1 of the trial. The photo below is from Friday morning.
10:40 a.m. | We have been notified that the vote has been delayed until 11:10 a.m.
10:34 a.m. | Of note: Six Republican senators who were allowed to vote in the trial, Paul Bettencourt, Donna Campbell, Joan Huffman, Phil King, Tan Parker and Drew Springer are up from re-election this Spring.
10:28 a.m.| Whistleblowers David Maxwell, Ryan Vassar and Blake Brickman are in the gallery to watch the vote.
10:14 a.m. | There is action on the Senate floor. Remember: 21 votes are needed on just one article for Paxton to be removed from office.
The state senators who are serving as the jury for the trial began deliberations just after lunch on Friday, following passionate closing arguments from both sides.
21 of the 30 voting senators must vote for an article of impeachment in order for Paxton to be removed from office.
There are 16 articles of impeachment, mostly focused around the suspended attorney general's relationship with donor and friend Nate Paul.
The articles allege that Paxton used the power of his office in order to help Paul with his business and legal issues.
House impeachment managers say that in exchange Paul hired Paxton's mistress and helped facilitate secret meetings between the two. They also say that Paxton and Paul reached an agreement for Paul to pay for expensive renovations to the Paxton home.
Other articles say that Paxton retaliated against some of his top deputies who reported his conduct to the FBI.
The defense argues that all allegations contained within the 16 articles have not been proven and are simply false.
There is no timeframe for the jury to reach a decision.
The Senators will be allowed to deliberate until 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is presiding over the trial, told Senators to deliberate until 8 p.m. on Friday, but several Senators were spotted leaving the building before that time.
MORE FROM THE PAXTON IMPEACHMENT TRIAL:
- Closing arguments wrap up, jury deliberations to continue Saturday
- Defense rests, closing arguments Friday morning
- Paxton's mistress 'unavailable to testify,' prosecutors rest
- Outside lawyer says he was fired by Paxton team, was not paid for work
- Whistleblower: AG pushed for donor's 'insane' theories
- Texas: The Issue Is - A look at first week of testimony in AG Ken Paxton impeachment trial
- Ex-OAG director of law enforcement: 'Nate Paul was a criminal'
- Contentious, emotional testimony in Day 3 of trial
- Whistleblower describes meeting where AG admitted to affair
- Ken Paxton impeachment trial begins, suspended AG cannot be compelled to testify
No explanation was given to the media for the senators release.
If a decision is not reached on all 16 articles on Saturday, then jurors will come back Sunday, where they will be sequestered in the building until they reach a verdict.
Paxton Impeachment Vote Rules
There are 12 Democrats and 18 voting Republicans in the Texas Senate.
That means that if all 12 Democrats vote to remove Paxton, 9 Republicans would have to join them in voting against the popular conservative attorney general.
If any of the 16 articles reaches 21 votes then Paxton will be removed from office.
A second vote will then be held to permanently bar him from holding public office in Texas again/
On Day 1 of the trial, 6 Republicans, Paul Bettencourt from Houston, Donna Campbell from New Braunfels, Brandon Creighton from The Woodlands, Bob Hall from Rockwall, Lois Kolkhorst from Brenahm and Tan Parker from Flower Mound, voted for a motion to dismiss all articles of impeachment before any testimony began.
The motion failed 24 to 6 and the trial continued.
Closing arguments began on Friday morning with a short plea from House impeachment manager Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Kerrville).
In the statement, Murr called on the Senate jurors to hold Paxton accountable.
"If we don’t keep public officials from abusing the powers of their office, then frankly no one can," he said.
Then, lead defense attorney Tony Buzbee delivered his closing argument.
In a wide-ranging rebuke that included going through each of the 16 articles of impeachment against the suspended attorney general.
"There's no doubt these folks did not prove a case, they did not prove a preponderance, they did not prove anything other than they do not like Ken Paxton," Buzbee said.
Buzbee also turned his ire against Bush-era Republicans, who the defense has claimed orchestrated the push to impeach Paxton.
"Let it be clear now, the Bush era in Texas ends today," said Buzbee. "They can go back to Maine, this is Texas."
Paxton defeated George P. Bush, the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, in a May 2022 primary.
The defense lawyer also attacked House Speaker Dade Phelan and criticized members of the OAG's office who testified that they would not investigate Paxton donor and friend Nate Paul's allegations about the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
"Do we believe that the FBI is always on the up and up? Or can we all agree they sometimes they pick and they choose?" Buzbee said.
Buzbee called the trial a "political witch hunt" and said that the House impeachment managers have not done enough to prove any of the articles against Paxton, with much of the testimony based on rumors and hearsay.
"I know in the fiber of my being that this foolishness they accused him of is false," Buzbee said.
Fellow defense lawyer Dan Cogdell then took to the mic, claiming that there is enough reasonable doubt to acquit Paxton.
He said prosecutors Rusty Hardin and Dick DeGuerin are some of the best Texas has to offer, but that they fell short.
"[The prosecution] did the best they could, but the evidence simply wasn't there," said Cogdell.
Rep. Andrew Murr
Rep. Murr came back to give a more thorough closing argument.
Murr leaned on clips of testimony from witnesses over the 8 days of testimony the trial, which he says proves the allegations against Paxton.
They played recording of Paxton's former top deputies-turned whistblowers.
He also talked about someone who was deemed "unavailable to testify," Paxton mistress Laura Olson.
Murr also laid out a timeline for when the OAG whistleblowers went to the FBI and said that it was not until the day after he learned of whistleblowers' report that he paid a contractor for renovations to his Austin home. The allegations in the articles of impeachment say that Paul paid for the renovations.
Rep. Murr used the defense's common refrain against them. Listing the ways Paul allegedly benefited from Paxton's actions and stating "there are no coincidences in Austin."
Rep. Jeff Leach
The House managers closed with emotional testimony from longtime Paxton friend Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) who said he considers Paxton his mentor and "loved" him.
Leach, who was part of the Republican delegation from Collin County, Paxton's home turf, who voted to impeach the attorney general in May.
"In voting to impeach General Ken Paxton, my dear friend, a political mentor, a brother in Christ and a once trusted advisor, this has not just been a hard vote, this has been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do in my life," Leach said.
Leach said that he called Paxton to talk to the House investigators several times over the years, but the attorney general consistently refused.
He also took issue with the way defense attorney Tony Buzbee spoke of some of the whistleblowers, including longtime Texas Ranger David Maxwell, who was watching the proceedings from the gallery.
"Mr. Maxwell, I see you. You deserve more than to be ridiculed and mocked on the floor of the Texas Senate," said Leach.
Leach told the Senators that this vote will probably be the hardest in their time in the office.
"There comes a time for each of us, there will come a time for you, I believe this is it, not to ask yourself what is safe or popular or politic, but what is right," Leach said.