Rove says ‘court of opinion’ will make Paxton pay after impeachment acquittal

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Veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) may still face consequences in the “court of opinion” after he narrowly survived an impeachment probe last week over corruption allegations.

The impeachment probe alleged that Paxton gave political favors to donors, including interfering in investigations and retaliating against whistleblowers. The Texas Senate held eight days of witness testimony before he was acquitted.

Paxton previously claimed that the investigation was sparked by Rove and other political enemies. Rove wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal before the trial predicting he would be removed from office.

“The Senate is not really a court,” Rove said at an event hosted by the Texas Tribune on Friday. “They made their decision. But the court of opinion is going to hold this guy responsible.”

The Texas House voted to impeach Paxton in a 121-23 vote in May, including about 70 percent of the body’s Republicans and all of its Democrats.

Rove said Paxton “can’t keep his zipper up,” referencing allegations that he provided favors for a donor after they got a job for a woman with whom Paxton was having an affair.

“The tycoon wanted something in return for giving the girlfriend a job — and he got it,” Rove said.

He added said that Democrats are likely to put up a strong challenger to Paxton in 2026, his next reelection.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) also denounced the Senate trial in his own op-ed on Friday.

Phelan called House Republicans’ decision to impeach Paxton “no light matter,” saying he was “disappointed” that the Senate did not vote to convict.

“When the Senate trial began, I had full faith that the evidence and the process would allow the truth to prevail,” Phelan wrote. “I believed the Senate and its presiding officer would be so overwhelmed by Paxton’s repeated and apparent abuses of office that they would agree he should no longer serve as our state’s top cop.”

“Imagine my disappointment when it became clear the Senate would allow politics to prevail over principles,” he continued.

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