I haven’t been able to catch every day of it, but what I have managed to see of the ultra vigorous defense of Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton during his impeachment trial this week has just been unbelievable. His lawyers, to a one, have been whip smart, aggressive, and utterly ruthless eviscerating the “case” against the AG. I can’t say “the evidence,” because they’ve pretty well proven that there wasn’t any ever to begin with, even to the point of getting the accusers to admit to the same. That the gaggle only had a “good faith belief” there was some malarky going on when they took their stories to the FBI.
AY DIOS MIO
“Whistleblowers” whistling down the wind and how embarrassing.
…Before any witnesses were called, Judge Patrick exhorted the jury that according to the rules of the impeachment court that they had passed, only evidence that was sworn before these proceedings could be considered as they assessed their final votes. While it may seem obvious, it was an important reminder and a subtle rebuke of the Texas House, which had infamously rammed the impeachment resolution through the House in less than 48 hours over the Memorial holiday weekend in May after receiving a mix of closed and public third-hand summary testimony from sworn investigators who were recounting interviews from witnesses who had not been sworn during their own interviews.
What a parade of cranky babies. These are some of them…
…The House prosecution team’s first witness was Jeff Mateer who served as first assistant attorney general under Ken Paxton. Mateer is a widely respected Christian whose biggest claim to fame was having his nomination for district judge under President Trump scuttled for being too conservative. In his testimony, he came across as an Alex Vindman-style bureaucrat defending the “inter-agency consensus” who was upset at Paxton for marching to his own drum and not strictly hewing to departmental policies — as actual elected officials are often wont to do.
Defense Attorney Tony Buzbee put on a masterclass in deconstructing a web of complex allegations made by an otherwise credible witness. He offered innocent, compelling, and credible explanations for everything that drove the whistleblowers to assume Paxton’s conduct was illegal, which Mateer struggled to refute. Mateer also came across as remaining deeply offended and judgmental about Paxton’s prior confessed extramarital affair, which had clearly caused a rift between him and Paxton, thereby keeping any innocent explanations for Paxton’s conduct from being candidly communicated between the two men.
…Next up was Ryan Bangert who served as deputy first assistant attorney general. His primary claim of misconduct was that during Covid, Paxton had sought to get official guidance released to forestall public “courthouse step” foreclosure sales. Bangert’s theory of misconduct was that all along this was an effort to help Nate Paul’s business interests, which he acknowledged was based on media reports, not any investigation of Paul’s particular circumstance. Nate Paul was a friend and donor of Paxton who was persistent if not downright obnoxious in trying to leverage his connections with Paxton for help with his various legal troubles. Paxton’s lawyer credibly established that because Paul had filed for bankruptcy prior to the time when the guidance was released — which automatically stayed the foreclosure — the guidance didn’t benefit Paul at all.
…Ryan Vasser, the final OAG lawyer to be called as a witness, nearly single-handedly broke the Central Texas drought with his own waterworks on the stand, and that was before he had to publicly explain the cringe group texts making fun of his co-workers that he and his fellow whistleblowing wunderkinds had shared between themselves. Recall these were lawyers in the process of staging a mass exit, reporting their boss to the FBI, and seeking whistleblower protections — and they didn’t have the good sense to consider that their text messages would be discoverable during any future litigation.
This is literally the gang that can’t walk or talk straight, and the legislature pursuing this – if they had any shame, their heads should be dragging the floor with it.
A week and a half into the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the case against the conservative fighter is falling apart in spectacular fashion.
Witness after witness, all called by the House Board of Managers, have testified under oath that they either have no direct evidence against the attorney general or explained that the articles of impeachment were simply untrue.
All this after Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, chief manager, promised the people of Texas that the trial in the Senate would be the place where the supposed evidence of horrific misdeed would be finally brought to light.
…For example, the prosecution called Drew Wicker, Paxton’s former personal assistant. Wicker had previously told investigators that he was worried that an Austin-based businessman had paid for renovations to Paxton’s Austin residence, which forms the basis for impeachment Article 10.
However, Wicker explained on the stand that he had never seen any agreement between the two men and even testified that he had not and would never accuse Paxton of bribery. On cross-examination, the defense provided pictures of Paxton’s home from before the 2020 renovations and from August 2023, which showed Wicker that the renovations he had been concerned about never even took place.
There were moments when Paxton’s team just toyed with the witnesses and led them into groaners.
Now, keep in mind that Paxton ran for TX AG against Bush scion George P. Bush in the Republican primary and trounced the lad thoroughly, as in “wiped the floor with him,” even after a scorched earth campaign savaging Paxton for his moral and ethics problems.
That has apparently led to some lasting resentment on the Bush family side and, weirdly enough, a Bush connection in the high-powered lawyer every last one of these accusers has retained as their counsel. The same lawyer with deep Bush-family ties, mind you, that hasn’t charged any of these accusers a single dime in THREE years.
“To be clear, you’ve never paid Johnny Sutton a dime, have you?”
MP “Not yet.”
“You have some type of pro bono deal with him?”
“Who’s payin’ for him?”
MP “We haven’t agreed on a fee arrangement yet. We’ve agreed to discuss that in the future.”
There are so many signs that this whole affair has been a Bush family orchestrated vendetta. Lead defense attorney and former Marine Tony Buzbee says that ends today.
After a momentary extra embarrassment when house managers accidentally and prematurely rested their case…
…the impeachment has been given to the Texas Senate for deliberation, and there is an expectation of a verdict by tomorrow at the latest.
As it’s not a criminal jury of peers, but a partisan jury of elected senators, what should be obvious as a result may well not be.
But Buzbee’s team – they were amazing in action and made the whole thing worth watching.
*UPDATE*: Saturday morning 11:10 CST The verdict/vote is in and they’ve just called the Senate into session to hear it. Live feed here:
Looks they’re going to vote on each charge on paper and the clerk with totes upa nd read them. Lt Gov Patrick going through the first charge now, and reminding them if he’s convicted one charge, he’s removed from office.
*UPDATE*: It would have only taken a conviction on one of the 16 charges to do him in, and they couldn’t do it. There were even Dems voting with Republicans for acquittal on some of the charges, it was THAT bad. They were always significantly short of the 21 votes they needed to remove him.
It’s going to be awkward going for some folks.