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The free-floating anxiety in the Senate chamber at the Texas Capitol was so thick on September 16 that, from the floor to the gallery, you could almost feel the emotional electrons pinging through the air. That Saturday morning was, of course, the day on which, after hearing nine days of arguments and testimony, thirty senators filed into the sun-streaked room to vote to keep or expel Ken Paxton as attorney general of Texas, the first-ever such trial of the state’s chief law enforcement officer. The famous kitchen countertops, allegedly part of a bribe from an Austin real estate developer, had already become a meme by this point, but other charges against the attorney general were even more serious. He had been impeached by the state’s Republican-controlled…
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