AUSTIN, Texas – The historic impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton in the Texas Senate enters day seven.
Paxton faces 16 articles of impeachment that accuse him of misusing the powers of the attorney general’s office to help his friend and donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor who was under federal investigation.
Paxton pleaded not guilty to all impeachment articles on the trial’s first day, which started Tuesday, Sept. 5.
The House has since called dozens of witnesses to the stand, mostly whistleblowers who worked for Paxton and reported his alleged corruption in 2020.
On Tuesday, Brandon Cammack, a personal injury attorney hired as outside counsel by Paxton to investigate Nate Paul’s allegations, took center stage. Cammack gave hours worth of testimony, mostly describing his relationship with Paxton and how he got involved in the case.
If convicted by the Texas Senate, Paxton would be removed from office and possibly barred from holding any political office in the future.
A two-thirds majority — or at least 21 votes — is needed to convict. That means if all Democrats vote against Paxton, they still need nine Republicans to join them.
Sept. 24, 2023, at 6:37 p.m.
Due to an “elongated discussion” Patrick asks the court to adjourn for the day. Trial resumes at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Sept. 24, 2023, at 6:25 p.m.
Court resumes. Paxton alerts the court that the motion was withdrawn.
Defense calls Prof. Michael Gerhardt to the stand. While the baliff brought Gerhardt to the stand, both sides of the aisle asked to approach the bench before moving forward.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 5:38 p.m.
Patrick asks the jury of senators to deliberate on a direct verdict.
Buzbee declined to press to cross-examine Brickman and instead quickly moved for a directed verdict, arguing that House managers had not sufficiently proved the articles of impeachment. The written motions challenged every article singly or in groups, he said.
16 eligible members must be present to pass. If it fails, the motion is denied.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 5:25 p.m.
Brickman is excused from the witness stand.
Rusty Hardin and the House Board of Managers rests their case. However, he admitted that he did so accidentally.
Buzbee tells Hardin that he would recall the witness if needed since he rested before he had time to cross-examine the witness.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 5:00 p.m.
Rusty Hardin resumes. Brickman returns to the witness stand.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 4:53 p.m.
Lt. Gov. Patrick tells the jury that Laura Olson, the woman whom AG Ken Paxton had an affair with, was present, “deemed unavailable to testify.” Patrick did not elaborate.
Olson was called to testify on Wednesday, but Patrick said she was not eligible until after 3 p.m., per trial rules.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 3:48 p.m.
Lt. Gov. Patrick calls for a break “until further notice,” as he conducts a meeting outside the courtroom.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 3 p.m.
The House managers call whistleblower Blake Brickman to the stand. Brickman served as Paxton’s deputy attorney general for policy and strategic initiatives.
Rusty Hardin begins asking questions.
Brickman testified that he learned about Paxton in September 2020, adding that his office was five feet away from Paxton. But once he learned more about him, “I was concerned he was breaking the law.”
Brickman also testified that after two years of delays, Paxton’s lawyers reached out in January 2023 about a possible settlement. House lawyer Rusty Hardin asked Brickman what he thought had changed.
“Ken Paxton was reelected,” Brickman said, adding that it was “even worse than that.” “I think Ken Paxton lied to the public for two years about our case.”
Sept. 13, 2023, at 2:55 p.m.
Buzbee concludes cross-examination. Epley briefly redirects.
Wicker is excused from the stand.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 2:50 p.m.
Wicker is asked about text messages exchanged between him and Nate Paul regarding Dick Weekley.
He is also asked about the contents inside the manila envelope. Wicker testifies he did not know what was inside, nor he said he looked.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 2:40 p.m.
Buzbee asks Wicker regarding a manila envelope containing a CD taped outside of it. Wicker says he did not recall whether the envelope was delivered to Nate Paul. He also testified that he did not meet Paul at a dark alleyway.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 1:45 p.m.
Court resumes. Wicker is called back to the stand. Buzbee continues to cross-examine him.
Buzbee continues to question Wicker about the home renovations that were being done at his house, showing text messages to the court where Paxton asked one of his employees to pay an invoice totaling $121,817 in full on Sept. 30, the day it was due.
Buzbee then moved on to question Wicker about the instances he had to deliver items to Nate Paul, specifically the time when Wicker said he delivered an envelope and CD to Paul from Paxton. Buzbee showed a document, which he said was a text message between Wicker and Paul discussing what the document being delivered disclosed. Wicker said he did recall the conversation, but said it had nothing to do with the document he delivered.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 12:10 p.m.
Court in recess for lunch.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 11:34 a.m.
Tony Buzbee cross-examines Wicker. He asked Wicker if he believed he spent the most time with Paxton, more than his wife, and Wicker answered, yes. He asked Wicker if he was accusing Paxton of bribery, and Wicker answered, no.
Buzbee then started to go into details regarding Paxton’s home renovations but the prosecutors objected to a number of internet searches Buzbee was trying to admit to the court.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 10:54 a.m.
The House passed the witness and Patrick called for a 20-minute break.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 9:35 a.m.
Paxton’s former executive aide, Andrew Wicker, was called to testify. Wicker, who started working for the AG’s office in 2019, said he first met Nate Paul at a lunch with Paxton at Terry Black’s Barbecue. The second time, he said he, Paxton, Paul and Ryan Bangert met at another restaurant in Austin for lunch. On the third occasion, sometime in June or July of 2020, Wicker said Paul and Paxton met again at a restaurant and discussed the FBI raid on Paul’s residence. Although Wicker said he often did not sit with Paxton and Paul at their restaurant meetings, he was in close proximity.
Wicker was then asked by Epley if he had ever delivered any documents or items between Paxton and Paul, and he said he could recall about three instances - the first being a file and a CD and the second a cellphone that Paxton forgot at Paul’s home.
Wicker then went on to testify about his knowledge of Paxton’s affair, recalling a time when he and Paxton were both staying at the Omni Hotel and bumped into one another. Wicker said Paxton was wearing gym attire and exiting the elevator with a woman, who he later confirmed to be Olson, wearing a dress and high heels.
Wicker said Paxton was staying at the hotel while he was getting renovations done at his home in Austin, which was damaged during one of the Texas storms. This information is important because according to the prosecutors, Nate Paul was funding Paxton’s home renovations, which they argue may be one of the reasons Paxton felt inclined to help with Paul’s legal matters.
Wicker recalled being copied on an invoice from Kevin Wood, the lead contractor working on Paxton’s home, and Paul, relating to the renovations at the Paxton home. Wicker said he heard Wood saying that he needed to check with Paul before fixing something at the Paxton residence. Wicker said this concerned him, prompting him to speak with his bosses about the incident. He said he feared an inappropriate relationship between Paxton and Paul.
Wicker recalled being reached out to by the FBI, and around the same time, being offered a promotion from Paxton. He said he declined the promotion, hired his own attorney and resigned on Nov. 2, 2020.
When he resigned, Wicker said he was still receiving paychecks from the Paxton campaign. He said he reached out to the AG’s office and asked to return the money but Paxton refused. Wicker said he decided to donate the money back to the Paxton campaign.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 9:13 a.m.
Prosecutor Erin Epley called Ray Chester, an attorney for the Mitte Foundation, to the stand. According to Chester, the Mitte Foundation, which was started by Roy F. Mitte “focuses on areas of education, youth development, aging, and disability services.”
Chester didn’t spend much time testifying. He briefly discussed the foundation’s relationship with Paul, who he said the foundation made a total of six investments with, totaling about $3 million. He said out of the six investments, only three have been profitable, testifying that two are still pending.
Chester then discussed the foundation’s legal issues and filing for bankruptcy before he was dismissed from the stand.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 9:00 a.m.
Witness Laura Olson, the woman Paxton allegedly had an affair with was called to testify. According to Patrick, Olson was not given the proper 24-hour notice before being called to testify so she would have to be moved to Wednesday afternoon.
Sept. 13, 2023, at 9:00 a.m.
The Senate was called to session and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick entered the chamber. The jury was then called into the chamber.
(Below is an interactive graphic showing who’s who and how the courtroom is organized.)
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