AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton attacked his Republican rivals and displayed an openness to challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2026 while speaking out Wednesday for the first time since his acquittal on corruption charges at his impeachment trial.
He did not discuss accusations that he misused his office to protect a political donor, which were the backbone of Paxton becoming just the third sitting official in Texas’ nearly 200-year history to be impeached. Paxton did not testify during the two-week impeachment trial and is still under FBI investigation.
Instead, Paxton used pre-recorded interviews with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson and a Texas conservative activist to lay into Republicans who drove his impeachment and to assert that his career is far from over.
“It became political completely and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out on the political side,” Paxton told Carlson.
Paxton was acquitted by the Texas Senate on Saturday on 16 articles of impeachment. Most of the charges surrounded his relationship with an Austin real estate developer named Nate Paul, who was indicted in June on charges of making false statements to banks in order to secure more than $170 million in loans. Paul has pleaded not guilty and did not appear at the impeachment trial.
Only two Republicans voted to convict Paxton on any of the impeachment articles, well short of the nine that would have needed to join Senate Democrats in order to remove Paxton from office. The 31 members of the Texas Senate include Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, who was required to attend the trial but was barred from voting.
Paxton, who was scheduled Thursday to continue a media blitz with conservative hosts, picked up where his defense team left off in the trial and called his impeachment a political plot orchestrated by Republican rivals.
He also criticized Cornyn, who in recent years has been one of Texas’ few top Republicans to publicly express concerns with Paxton’s legal troubles.
Asked by Carlson why he doesn’t challenge Cornyn, who is up for reelection in 2026, Paxton said, “Hey look, everything is on the table for me.”
Spokespersons for Cornyn did not immediately return an email seeking comment late Wednesday.
The outcome of the trial far from ended Paxton’s troubles. He still faces trial on felony securities fraud charges, remains under a separate FBI investigation and is in jeopardy of losing his ability to practice law in Texas because of his baseless attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Find AP’s full coverage of the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at: https://apnews.com/hub/ken-paxton