Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is breathing a sigh of relief as we usher in a new era with the Trump administration. Unlike Obama, Trump offers a transparent, productive agenda, Paxton told Townhall when he visited our office on Wednesday. Paxton was one of several attorneys general to visit with the president on Tuesday. When he spent some time with the president, Paxton discovered a funny, down to earth guy.
"The president was very different than I expected - he was very funny," Paxton said. "I thought he was much more down to earth than I expected, just kind of like he was one of us, he was really interesting. No pretense, and I also felt like he wanted us to have a good experience. Like he was going out of his way, so he took a picture, he was very engaging, talking to us, took lots of pictures."
Trump offered a few remarks and answered many questions, including some from the Democratic AGs. Then, he surprised them with a very gracious invitation.
"He said, 'Hey do you guys want to go to the Oval Office?,'" Paxton explained. "Kind of like, 'Hey, come see my office.' And then he goes, “Oh wait, let me put it a different way: does anybody not want to come?” And, of course, who didn’t want to come, so he walked us down there and came in from the outside, which I never come into the Oval Office from the outside...He sat down at his desk and answered questions, took pictures."
Trump isn't only taking pictures, Paxton was sure to note. The president's jam packed schedule and executive actions have already made attorneys generals' lives much easier.
"They’ve already rescinded one executive order where the guidelines that Obama put on Title VII and Title IX, they also stepped out of, they withdrew from part of our lawsuit on voter ID in relation to discriminatory purpose, so we’re seeing positive steps that we never saw under the Obama Administration," Paxton noted. "He’s already accomplished more in whatever, I guess he’s been there what two weeks, we’ve gotten more done than we’ve gotten done in our first two years of Obama."
The Obama White House was "unrelenting," Paxton recalled. "They didn’t care what the law said, they wouldn’t talk to us. They were just, they didn’t care. We definitely have a better relationship, way, way better already.”
A few specific areas in which Paxton already senses progress is his effort to roll back sanctuary cities and the Obama-era bathroom mandate.
"If you’re not going to follow the law, then we’re not going to fund your city or your municipality or whatever government entity it is, we’re not going to provide funds for it and in the Senate bill there was actually some penalties and they put an amendment on that added criminal penalties for not following the law," Paxton said in regards to localities that refuse to comply with ICE agents.
As Texas attorney general, Paxton is also encouraged by Trump's effort to return power to the states.
"What I like about President Trump is that he has moved in the direction of actually following the Constitution, separation of powers, and federalism, where the states retain powers as much as possible and he’s pushed the power back to Texas, back to our states.”