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.
Instead of convincing evidence showing that Paxton abused his office beyond a reasonable doubt, those watching the trial have been met with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The witnesses closest to Paxton, who had the most opportunity to see wrongdoing, have repeatedly testified under oath that they never saw the general do anything wrong or had no evidence to speak of that proved wrongdoing.
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.
Furthermore, the defense produced invoices and bank statements showing the general had paid for all renovations from his personal accounts.
“Can we agree now, Drew, that your concerns have been put to bed?” the defense lawyer, Tony Buzbee, asked. “Yes, sir,” Wicker confirmed.
A similar sequence happened when the House called a young lawyer named Brandon Cammack to the stand. Paxton had hired Cammack as outside counsel for the Office of the Attorney General to investigate allegations of misconduct by state and federal law enforcement made by Nate Paul.
Paxton hired Cammack because none of the employees in the office would look into the case, with some even claiming that it would be illegal for Texas to investigate wrongdoing by federal officials. Cammack eventually sent out several dozen grand jury subpoenas in an effort to obtain information. This action triggered several of Paxton’s top staffers to go to the FBI and allege criminal wrongdoing in 2020 — setting off the series of events that would eventually lead to the impeachment trial.
Impeachment Article 5 is grounded entirely on Cammack’s actions, but on the stand, the young attorney destroyed the claim in its totality.
The House Managers alleged that Cammack had been hired as a “prosecuting attorney pro tem,” a very specific legal position with statutory limitations. However, Cammack explained he never operated under that title, and his contract confirmed he had been hired as “outside counsel” only, something Paxton had the legal authority to do.
Furthermore, the impeachment article claims that the investigation had been baseless and done solely for the benefit of Paul, but Cammack testified, “I was convinced there was something there,” adding that “if the allegations they were making were true, that would be serious.”
When the defense asked Cammack if he had conducted the investigation for the benefit of Paul and his businesses, he admitted, “I didn’t even know Mr. Paul or his properties.”
With these two impeachment articles imploding, many of the others similarly fall away as they are all intertwined. In short, the Board of Managers was doing about as well as a pig on ice.
As if to punctuate the absolute disaster of the House’s argument, Rusty Hardin, the 81-year-old lawyer leading the prosecution, accidentally rested their case-in-chief before the other side had a chance to cross-examine the witness who was still sitting on the stand.
When he tried to take it back, Tony Buzbee held him to it, and Lt. Gov. Patrick agreed, ending the prosecution’s case.
At the beginning of trial, Buzbee told the Senate, “The prosecution and the press will tell a whopping story … [but] it’s a tale of sound and fury; it signifies nothing.”
And after a week and a half and more than two dozen hours of testimony, it appears that the impeachment gambit against Paxton really did signify nothing.