HOUSTON, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a hard-right Republican firebrand and firm ally of former President Donald Trump, was acquitted of all impeachment charges including corruption, lawbreaking and power abusing in a state Senate voting on Saturday.
The votes fell mostly along party lines, with only two GOP senators voting to convict Paxton on some of the 16 charges after a two-week trial, a stark contrast to over 70 percent of House Republicans who impeached the attorney general in May.
Republicans hold a 19-12 majority in the Senate of the country's largest red state, and a two-thirds majority is required to convict Paxton on any of the charges.
Angela Paxton, the attorney general's wife and a Republican senator, attended the whole proceedings but was not allowed to vote.
The trial has become a political spectacle drawing attention nationwide and is widely expected to deepen rifts among the state's Republican Party.
After the voting, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick slammed the fact that the House of Representatives and its Republican leadership voted to impeach Paxton after only three days of consideration in May and thus wasted millions of taxpayer dollars.
Meanwhile, House impeachment managers said they were disappointed by the Senate's decision.
Lead House impeachment manager Andrew Murr, a Republican, said they made a convincing case to remove Paxton from office while Ann Johnson, a former prosecutor, decried the verdict as "hyper partisan," arguing that overwhelming evidence of Paxton's corruption was ignored.
Paxton, who only attended two days of the trial and was absent during the verdict, said in a statement on Saturday: "The weaponization of the impeachment process to settle political differences is not only wrong, it is immoral and corrupt."
The state's top lawyer said the impeachment was coordinated by the Joe Biden Administration with the state's Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan.
"The House did not come here lightly," Murr said in the closing remarks on Friday. "We discovered unprecedented abuse in the Texas Attorney General's Office by Mr. Paxton."
During the trial, a number of witnesses, including former senior officials under the attorney general, testified that Paxton had repeatedly abused his office by helping Austin real estate developer and campaign donor Nate Paul investigate and harass his enemies, delay foreclosure sales of his properties and obtain confidential records on the police investigating him, The Texas Tribune reported.
House impeachment managers also accused Paul of paying to renovate Paxton's Austin home and helping him carry out and cover up an extramarital affair with a former Senate aide.
In return, Paxton's lawyers called current staffers who said they saw no wrongdoing, and Paxton received no remodeling work by Paul.
Besides a trial on felony securities fraud charges dating back to 2015, Paxton is facing a separate FBI investigation for the same corruption allegations in his impeachment case.
Paxton is only the third sitting official in Texas's nearly 200-year history to have undergone an impeachment process, following Governor James Ferguson in 1917 and District Judge O.P. Carrillo in 1975. ■