Mr. Murr, with his distinctive curling mustache, parried many of the attacks on the process by returning to the seriousness of the charges against Mr. Paxton. “We will not tolerate corruption, bribery, abuse of office, retaliation and all the related charges that have been presented to you,” he said in his closing remarks. “I’m confident that you cannot tolerate let alone defend these most serious and grave official wrongs.
Representative John Smithee, another Republican, took on the role of arguing against impeachment, focusing less on the accusations and more on the ways in which he viewed the process as unfair. He said that not enough evidence had been presented and that lawmakers had not had enough time to consider such a consequential decision.
“It’s what I call the hang them now and judge them later policy,” he said of the proceedings.
Representative Ann Johnson, a Democrat and former prosecutor, laid into Mr. Paxton from the floor on Saturday, saying he had broken laws that could lead to jail time. She also described what she said were senior members of Mr. Paxton’s staff whose integrity had compelled them to speak up about his behavior. She said one employee observed Mr. Paxton requesting expensive renovations to his home that would be taken care of by his friend and donor.
The employee, deeply disturbed at a situation he regarded as improper, quit his job, Ms. Johnson said. When he continued to be paid by Mr. Paxton, she said, the man returned the money to Mr. Paxton’s campaign. “This is the kind of integrity,” she said, that investigators discovered from the people who spoke up, many of whom were Republicans.
House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican in his second session leading the House, managed the proceedings and remained mostly quiet aside from urging decorum at the start. But because he was seen as having allowed the proceeding to take place at all, Mr. Phelan has come under withering and sustained attack from national Republican figures, particularly those allied with Mr. Trump. After the impeachment vote, Mr. Trump personally vilified Mr. Phelan. “What is our Country coming to?” Mr. Trump asked on his social media network, Truth Social.
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