Where’s Kenny? Embattled AG gone AWOL from own trial
The impeachment trial of embattled Texas AG Ken Paxton’s could wrap up today, 9/15. But Paxton has skipped every day after Day 1, despite this potentially pivotal effect on his career (1). Paxton is not, however, required to attend the proceedings.
Not only that, but, given the events of Thursday, Day 8, one must wonder what the point of convicting Paxton will be. On Thursday, House impeachment managers withdrew their proposal to automatically disqualify Ken Paxton from holding state office in the future if convicted (1,2). Paxton would presumably be removed from office, if convicted.
Lt Gov Dan Patrick announced the withdrawal but did not provide a reason. This move could potentially allow Paxton to continue wielding influence in Texas politics, even if impeached.
Further, as reported by the Texas Democratic Party:
Henry de la Garza, the Human Resources Director at the Attorney General's office, testified that the firing of whistleblowers was both legal and justified despite whistleblower claims over the last few days. This testimony not only undermines the integrity of whistleblower protection laws but also shines a bright light on the rampant corruption within the Attorney General's office.
Austin Kinghorn, the current deputy attorney general for legal counsel, testified that he saw no wrongdoing in the Attorney General's office. However, his credibility is lacking — he stated that he viewed the Attorney General as his legal client, rather than the top law enforcement official in Texas.
Justin Gordon, head of the open records division in the Attorney General's office, was called to testify by the defense in efforts to challenge allegations that Paxton improperly provided sensitive information to real estate investor Nate Paul. Gordon's testimony focused on procedural “violations" by the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety in handling open records requests.
After facing a relentless line of questioning from the prosecution, Paxton's defense team has rested its case, leaving every critical question unanswered and doing little to absolve Paxton of the allegations against him.
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Paxton’s defense team's decision to rest its case without adequately addressing the serious allegations against the Attorney General speaks volumes. Paxton’s sixteen impeachment articles and the testimony by the prosecution’s key witnesses have produced more than enough evidence to remove Ken Paxton from office. This is clear to all of us: Ken Paxton’s crimes mean he breached his oath of office, put the security of Texans at risk, and permanently jeopardized the integrity of the Attorney General’s office. Texans can no longer trust Republicans to run this agency.
“As we enter the final phases of this trial, it is imperative that Texans receive full transparency of the facts in this case. We can only expect Dan Patrick to continue withholding vital information, like shielding Ken Paxton from the witness stand, but the public deserves to know exactly what’s going on. Texans deserve better than shady politicians – it’s as simple as that.”
Closing arguments for both prosecution and defense began at 9 am Friday, Sept 15. Each side has one hour to provide closing arguments.