On Monday morning, the second week of the illustrious impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton began at the Texas Capitol.
The next steps for the House Impeachment Managers’ attorneys have not been made public, but they are expected to call witnesses, perhaps including Paxton’s executive assistant, to talk about the allegations of constitutional bribery against him.
Paxton is charged with 20 articles of impeachment for allegedly misusing his position of trust and power to advance his own interests and those of Nate Paul, an Austin real estate developer who contributed $25,000 to his campaign.
The articles of impeachment that suggest Paul paid for upgrades to Paxton’s Austin house and hired Paxton’s alleged mistress to make it easier for him to visit her will likely be the focus of the House’s legal team this coming week.
Paxton did not appear at the trial after his attorneys had submitted a not-guilty plea on his behalf because he was not required to do so by the Senate’s rules.
Four of Paxton’s top former lieutenants, who were employed by him, Jeff Mateer, Ryan Bangert, Ryan Vassar, and David Maxwell, gave depositions against their former boss during the first week of the trial.
They claimed that despite their repeated warnings to Paxton, he yet attempted to assist Paul by having them write an opinion for him in court, participate in a litigation, and attempt to compel them to open an inquiry into Paul.
One of the former senior deputies who approached the FBI three years ago this month with their concerns was Vassar, Paxton’s former Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel.
The worry was that General Paxton’s abuse of the position would only get worse in order to help Nate Paul and that we might be accused of being complicit. However, one of Paxton’s attorneys, Mitch Little, engaged in cross-examination, which infuriated Paxton’s followers.
According to Vassar, “that is the purpose of the good faith belief as we had no evidence to point to, but we had reasonable conclusions to draw.” Little shouted at Vassar, “Do I have that right? You went to the FBI and reported the Attorney General to the state with no evidence.”
Our experiences, in my mind, were evidence, but we didn’t do our own research to back up what we had discovered, according to Vassar.