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AG acquitted in impeachment trial

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Acquitted STOCK

By Emily Banks Wooten
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Senator Robert Nichols was one of only two Republican senators to vote for articles of impeachment against Attorney General Ken Paxton. The other was Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills.

“I voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton because of the credible testimony I heard, and the many thousands of pages of evidence presented during trial,” Nichols said.

Paxton was acquitted by the state Senate of 16 charges in his recent impeachment trial, allowing him to keep his job as the top lawyer in the state. He was impeached earlier this year by the Texas House of Representatives based on allegations that he misused his office.

“The evidence included testimony from many of his top staff, including First Assistant AG Jeff Mateer, Deputy First Assistant AG Ryan Bangert, Deputy AG for Legal Counsel Ryan Vassar, Director of Law Enforcement Texas Ranger David Maxwell, Deputy AG for Criminal Justice Mark Penley, Deputy AG for Civil Litigation Darren McCarty and Deputy AG for Policy and Strategic Initiatives Blake Brickman. I believe these individuals displayed tremendous courage by reporting what they witnessed as violations of law,” Nichols said.

“Their testimony, combined with the totality of all the other evidence presented by the House Board of Managers, proved to me beyond a reasonable doubt that the Attorney General’s actions violated Texas law and his oath of office. The oath I swore, to render a true verdict based on the evidence presented, did not leave room for politics or second guessing. I have – and always will – vote for what I believe is right,” Nichols said.

The impeachment split the chambers of the state’s Republican-led legislature down the middle. Paxton was impeached in the House by a 121-23 margin, with 60 Republicans joining 61 Democrats in voting to impeach. Once the trial reached the Senate, however, the margins were flipped, with 16 Republican senators voting to acquit him and the two Republican senators joining 12 Democrats in voting to convict, falling short of the 21 total votes needed to remove him from office.

Copies of the evidence the court considered, as well as a complete audio-video record of the arguments are available online at www.senate.texas.gov/coi.

Nichols was first elected to the Texas Senate in 2006. He represents 18 counties including the greater part of East and Southeast Texas.

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