Texas AG Ken Paxton Impeachment Trial Could Wrap Up by Week’s End

Jana J. Pruet
By Jana J. Pruet
September 11, 2023USshare

The historic impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton resumed Monday with testimony from Mark Penley, who previously served as deputy attorney general for criminal justice.

Mr. Penley is the fifth witness for the House impeachment managers who have accused Mr. Paxton of using his office to help Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, who was under investigation by the FBI for actions relating to his business, World Class Holdings.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick opened Monday, saying that each side had about 14 1/2 hours left and that deliberations could begin as soon as Thursday. Mr. Patrick is presiding over the trial in the Senate chambers at the Capitol in Austin, Texas.

“We will not take a day off until a final resolution,” Mr. Patrick declared.

Thirty Senate jurors will vote on 16 of the 20 articles of impeachment to determine whether or not the suspended attorney general will return to his duties or be removed from office. Four of the articles were held in abeyance.

In May, the GOP-led Texas House impeached Mr. Paxton in a vote of 121–23 on accusations of abuse of power, bribery, and other wrongdoings.

Mr. Paxton pleaded not guilty to all of the articles of impeachment. In November 2022, more than 4.2 million Texans reelected the conservative attorney general to a third term.

Witness Testifies Paxton Did Not Trust Law Enforcement Agencies

Mr. Penley testified that, in an August 2020 meeting with Mr. Paul and his lawyer, Michael Wynne, he had informed the real estate investor that he would be closing the investigation. He said he had found no evidence of Mr. Paul’s claims of wrongdoing against him regarding the raid of his home in 2019.

Mr. Paxton was present for part of the meeting, according to Mr. Penley.

Mr. Penley told the jury that Mr. Paul and Mr. Wynne were “very unhappy” over the decision, and they “pushed back.”

“Mr. Paul acted like we didn’t understand who the real boss was,” Mr. Penley said. “It wasn’t the attorney general. It was him.”

During that same meeting, Mr. Penley said Mr. Paul “got very unhappy when Director Maxwell called him out for leaking our investigation to the media.”

Mr. Penley further explained that law enforcement investigations should be kept confidential in order not to “alert the target” or “smear people’s reputation unnecessarily.”

He said Mr. Paxton sided with Mr. Paul, saying that it was within his “First Amendment right” to alert the media.

Mr. Penley also accused Mr. Paxton of not trusting law enforcement agencies.

“You don’t know what it feels like to be the target of a corrupt law enforcement investigation,” Mr. Penley said Mr. Paxton told him.

Mr. Paxton has been fighting securities fraud charges since 2015, which he has charged were “politically motivated.”

‘Say It Again?’

The first week wrapped up with testimony from David Maxwell, a former Texas Ranger who was also the attorney general’s top law enforcement officer. Mr. Maxwell told the Senate jury that he had warned Mr. Paxton to cut ties with Mr. Paul.

“If he didn’t get away from this individual and stop doing what he was doing, he was going to get himself indicted,” Mr. Maxwell testified on Sept. 8.

Mr. Maxwell, who is recognized in the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, led the 1993 federal takeover of David Koresh’s Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The 51-day standoff ended in a bloody siege that left 80 dead, including 25 children, two pregnant women, and four law enforcement agents.

Mr. Maxwell was fired by the attorney general after a group of staffers reported him to the FBI for possible criminal activity in September 2020. He later sued the attorney general for wrongful firing. He claims he was fired for refusing to investigate whether the FBI had tampered with a search warrant used in the FBI’s raid of Mr. Paul’s home.

During cross-examination, Mr. Maxwell “suddenly” had trouble hearing the questions asked by Dan Cogdell, one of the defense layers representing Mr. Paxton.

“Now, so that you and I are clear, Ranger,” Mr. Cogdell said. “You are a fellow that’s taught folks how to testify, right?”

“Say it again?” Mr. Maxwell responded.

“Why is it that every time I ask you if you’ve taught folks how to testify, you suddenly can’t hear the question?” the attorney asked.

“Actually, by testifying. I learn by experience,” Mr. Maxwell replied.

“Is that one of the things you learn by experience, Ranger, to pause and act like you haven’t heard the question?” Mr. Cogdell asked.

Mr. Maxwell paused and then said, “Maybe.”

The Senate chamber erupted in laughter.

“What did you learn?” the defense attorney asked.

“I learned that it throws you off,” Mr. Maxwell said.

But the laughter quickly turned to tension.

“And that’s your intent, Ranger? Rather than testifying to the truth and giving direct answers, your game is to throw people off,” Mr. Cogdell asked sternly. “Is that where we’re going, Ranger?”

Mr. Maxwell answered, “No.”

“That’s what you just said. That’s what you just suggested,” Mr. Cogdell said.

“I just said I do sometimes pause,” Mr. Maxwell said without any further explanation.

Mr. Maxwell did not appear to have the same hearing issues during questioning from the House lawyers.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Maxwell testified that his “evaluation of the allegations made by Nate Paul” about the FBI was that they were “without merit, no probable cause, not any reason to believe that a crime had been committed.” He also told the jurors he was very upset over his firing, which brought his decades-long career to an end.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. on Sept. 12.

From The Epoch Times

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