WASHINGTON — This article first appeared in The Texas Tribune. Click here to read it.
Former President Donald Trump is claiming credit for Attorney General Ken Paxton’s acquittal.
Posting on his Truth Social platform Monday, Trump claimed that his sporadic defenses on social media for his long-time ally helped sway the course of Paxton’s impeachment trial.
“Yes, it is true that my intervention through TRUTH SOCIAL saved Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from going down at the hands of Democrats and some Republicans, headed by PAUL RINO (Ryan), Karl Rove, and others, almost all of whom came back to reason when confronted with the facts,” Trump said, naming checking former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and former White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove.
Neither Republican had a formal role in the impeachment process, though Rove penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed prophesying Paxton’s demise.
Paxton was impeached over allegations that he abused his office to help Austin real estate investor Nate Paul in exchange for personal favors. The Texas House voted on a bipartisan basis to impeach Paxton in May.
But Paxton’s impeachment trial ended Saturday with acquittal on all 16 charges. Trump celebrated the verdict shortly after, praising Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presided over the Senate trial, and calling for the removal of Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan. Trump, who is the only twice-impeached president in U.S. history, dismissed the charges against Paxton as “political persecution.”
That was the former president’s only public statement about the impeachment during the Senate trial. When the House voted to impeach Paxton in May, Trump posted on his social media site denouncing the proceedings and promising to target Republicans who turned against Paxton.
Paxton and Trump have long been closely aligned on policy, with the attorney general leading a lawsuit in 2020 to challenge the results of that year’s election in Trump’s favor. The Supreme Court swiftly threw out the lawsuit.
Paxton has also led a host of lawsuits against the Biden administration, ranging from attempting to toss the Affordable Care Act to challenging the constitutionality of a federal funding package. Trump also endorsed Paxton in his 2022 reelection primary, even as other Republicans including former U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, and former Land Commissioner George P. Bush courted the former president’s support.
“Ken has been a great A.G., and now he can go back to work for the wonderful people of Texas. It was my honor to have helped correct this injustice!” Trump’s Monday post continued.
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