As Texas Senate Secretary Patsy Spaw read aloud the votes acquitting Republican Attorney Ken Paxton on 16 impeachment articles — and a vote to dismiss the remaining four articles — the only sound in the gallery was the chirp of crickets, pouring rain and the occasional roar of thunder.
Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, sat with a blank expression as she took notes and occasionally looked up at the gallery.
Ken Paxton was not present for the verdict.
His attorney, Tony Buzbee, sat facing the chamber as he listened to the Senate acquit his client. The gallery, which has been fairly empty since the first day of the trial, was moderately filled with tourists and political onlookers. Throughout the vote, House managers looked somber.
Whistleblowers David Maxwell, Ryan Vassar, and Blake Brickman watched in the gallery with solemn expressions as the Senate handed their former boss back his job. Former Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore sat with them.
After the votes on the impeachment were all read, Sen. Paxton gave a quick nod to her staffer sitting in the back of the chamber.
Afterwards, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ripped the House’s impeachment, calling on the Legislature to amend a “flawed” process. Democratic state Sens. Sarah Eckhardt and Roland Gutierrez walked out during his comments.
After the Senate adjourned, Sen. Paxton packed up her bag and hugged Republican state Sen. Bob Hall and her husband’s lawyers before leaving the chamber.
The crickets remained the loudest noise in the room.
— Kate McGee