Republican Texas AG Ken Paxton is acquitted of 16 corruption charges at impeachment trial

Sunday, September 17, 2023
Texas AG Ken Paxton acquitted of 16 corruption charges
The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ended with an acquittal of all 16 articles brought against him.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- For complete details from the trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the following article will keep running updates. During the testimony, live video from the proceedings will be available in the player at the top of this page.

Saturday, Sept. 16

12:50 p.m.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted Saturday of all charges at a historic impeachment trial.

Angela Paxton was not allowed to vote. But she attended all two weeks of the trial, including the reading of the verdict, when all but two of her fellow 18 Republican senators consistently voted to acquit her husband on 16 impeachment articles that accused him of misconduct, bribery and corruption.

Ken Paxton, who was absent for most of the proceedings, did not attend the verdict. It clears the way for Paxton to reclaim his role as Texas' top lawyer, more than three months after his stunning impeachment in the Texas House forced him to temporarily step aside.

The outcome far from ends Paxton's troubles. He still faces trial on felony securities fraud charges, remains under a separate FBI investigation and is in jeopardy of losing his ability to practice law in Texas because of his baseless attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

12:15 p.m.

The Texas Senate began delivering a verdict Saturday over whether Attorney General Ken Paxton should be removed from office over corruption charges that have shadowed the Republican for years.

The early votes went Paxton's way, with the GOP-controlled Senate acquitting him on the first nine of 16 total articles of impeachment. Many of the votes fell mostly along party lines, with only two Republican senators voting to convict Paxton on some of the charges.

Paxton was not in the Senate chamber for what was the conclusion of Texas' first impeachment trial in nearly a half-century. Paxton also did not attend the majority of the two-week trial.

The jury of 30 senators spent about eight hours deliberating behind closed doors before emerging for the historic vote. A two-thirds majority is required to convict Paxton on any of the charges that accuse Paxton of bribery, corruption and unfitness for office.

The Texas Senate on Saturday ended deliberations over whether Attorney General Ken Paxton should be removed from office, putting the Republican's historic impeachment trial on the brink of a verdict.

The jury of 30 senators, most of whom are Republicans, spent about eight hours deliberating behind closed doors. A two-thirds majority is required to convict Paxton on any of 16 articles of impeachment that accuse Paxton of bribery, corruption and unfitness for office.

About 50 members of the public took seats in the gallery as the Senate chamber reopened for the vote shortly after 11 a.m. Among those who staked out an early seat for the impeachment vote were three of Paxton's former deputies who reported him to the FBI in 2020 and were key witnesses during the trial for House impeachment managers.

The vote could be a slow, public process. Each article of impeachment gets a separate vote. Republicans hold a 19-12 majority in the Senate, meaning that if all Democrats vote to convict Paxton, they would need nine Republicans to join them.

Deliberations started Friday, and the talks dragging out for more than a day behind closed doors fed a rare lack of assurance about how a vote might go in the Texas Capitol, where a dominant Republican majority typically means that outcomes are seldom in doubt.

ARTICLE 1: DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY - Paxton's protection of charitable foundation


14YEA, 16 NAY

ARTICLE 2: DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY - Abuse of the opinion process by writing favorable opinion of Paul


14 YEA, 16 NAY

ARTICLE 3: DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY - Abuse of the open records process


14 YEA, 16 NAY

ARTICLE 4: DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY - Misuse of official information to benefit Paul


2 YEA, 28 NAY

ARTICLE 5: DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY - Paxton's hiring of Cammack


13 YEA, 17 NAY

ARTICLE 6: DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY - Paxton's firing of whistleblowers


14 YEA, 16 NAY

ARTICLE 7: MISAPPLICATION OF PUBLIC RESOURCES - Paxton's creation of whistleblower investigation and report


14 YEA, 16 NAY

ARTICLE 8: DISREGARD OF OFFICIAL DUTY - Settlement agreement asking for $3.3 million


8 YEA, 22 NAY

ARTICLE 9: CONSTITUTIONAL BRIBERY - Paul's employment of a woman with whom Paxton was known to be having an affair


12 YEAS, 18 NAYS

ARTICLE 10: CONSTITUTIONAL BRIBERY - Paul's providing of renovations to the Paxton home


14 YEAS, 16 NAYS

ARTICLE 15: FALSE STATEMENT IN OFFICIAL RECORDS - Paxton's signing of internal report clearing himself of whistleblower's allegations


14 YEAS, 16 NAYS

ARTICLE 16: CONSPIRACY AND ATTEMPTED CONSPIRACY - Paxton's acting with others to commit crimes outlined in articles


14 YEAS, 16 NAYS

ARTICLE 17: MISAPPROPRIATION OF PUBLIC RESOURCES - Paxton's hiring of Cammack and assignment of AG employees to benefit Paul


14 YEAS, 16 NAYS

ARTICLE 18: DERELICTION OF DUTY - Paxton's violation of U.S. Constitution and oath of office in act against public interest


14 YEAS, 16 NAYS

ARTICLE 19: UNFITNESS FOR OFFICE - Paxton's engagement in private and public misconduct


14 YEAS, 16 NAYS

ARTICLE 20: ABUSE OF PUBLIC TRUST - Paxton's bringing of his office into "scandal and disrepute"


14 YEAS, 16 NAYS

9:45 a.m.

After failing to reach a verdict on Friday, senators returned to the capitol Saturday morning. They were ordered by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to start deliberating at 9 a.m. and were set to start voting on articles of impeachment at 10:30 a.m. Officials later came back and said the vote start would be delayed until 11:10 a.m.

Patrick told them to stay until 8 p.m. to work on their decision. Once a verdict is reached, a half hour warning will be given to the media and public.

Senators will vote on all 16 articles of impeachment and deliberate in private, but will vote in public.

All it takes is for one conviction for Paxton to be removed from office. If that happens, senators will vote once more to determine if he'll ever be allowed to run for office again.

Friday, Sept. 15

7:40 p.m.

The 30 Texas state senators deciding the fate of Attorney General Ken Paxton spent roughly seven hours of deliberations before calling it a night.

Sources told ABC13's Nick Natario that some senators departed from the Texas Capitol at about 7:30 p.m.

Their due to return at 9 a.m. Saturday to start deliberations back up.


Paxton's impeachment trial moved into the hands of a Senate jury that will decide whether the embattled Republican should be removed from office over corruption allegations that have shadowed him for years.

SEE ALSO: What happens now, and what they're deciding

9 a.m.

Paxton is present

Paxton was rarely seen since his trial began, but on Friday he was present. The attorney general was seated next to his attorney Tony Buzbee. Each side will get an hour for closing arguments.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said after closing arguments, Senators will deliberate in private. If a verdict can't be reached Friday, they'll be allowed to go home, but can only communicate with family, and cannot watch TV.

Closing arguments
The House impeachment team went first during closing arguments. It chose to use 10 minutes, then use the rest of the time after the defense closed its case.

House board of managers chair, State Rep. Andrew Murr delivered the closing remarks. "The House did not come here lightly," Murr said. "We discovered unprecedented abuse in the Texas Attorney General's Office by Mr. Paxton."

Paxton faces 16 articles of impeachment. "Mr. Paxton's attorneys like to remind everyone that he was elected by 4.2 million voters, but they have blindly ignored the fact that he has ultimately served one person, himself," Murr said.

Prosecutors said Paxton helped real estate developer, and campaign donor, Nate Paul in exchange for giving his alleged mistress a job, and working on his home. Prosecutors allege Paxton pushed staff to help Paul by drafting an opinion, giving him confidential information and hiring outside counsel to investigate authorities looking into Paul's business.

"He repeatedly demanded that his deputies acted as Nate Paul's personal lawyers and not the state's lawyers," Murr said. "He gave the keys to the office."

During the trial, Paxton's lawyers called current staffers who said they saw no wrongdoing, and Paxton received no remodeling work by Paul.

"Mr. Paxton's claims are divorced from reality," Murr explained. "The fact that every action complained of benefited Nate Paul is not mere happenstance. As Mr. Paxton's counsel has said, 'There are no coincidences in Austin.'"

Paxton's lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, delivered the closing argument for the defense. "There is shame here and the shame sits right there that they would bring this case and this chamber with no evidence," Buzbee said.

Buzbee said the trial has been political and the only crime they have on Paxton is they don't like him. "If this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone," Buzbee said.

Paxton's defense eluded to a conspiracy in its closing that the impeachment is being pushed by the Bush family. George P. Bush ran against Paxton in the 2022 attorney general's race.

"Let it be known. Let it be clear now," Buzbee said. "The Bush era in Texas ends today! We thought it has ended in the primary when Ken Paxton beat George P. Bush 68-32. Well, we thought it was over. It wasn't. Now, we have an impeachment. It ends today. They can go back to Maine. This is Texas."

Buzbee told Senators that the House impeachment team has the burden of proof to show Paxton did things worth impeachment. A level Buzbee said prosecutors didn't reach during the trial.

"In my view, that's exactly what their entire case has been, a joke," Buzbee said. "Much to do about nothing."

Buzbee wasn't the only defense attorney to speak during closing. Dan Cogdell also addressed senators.

"These aren't second chair misdemeanor prosecutors," Cogdell said. "They're the best of the best. They did the best they could, but the evidence simply wasn't there."

After an hour, the prosecution got to go back to the podium. Once again, Murr addressed senators. He relied on testimony from the trial to play for jurors, mainly from the whistleblowers.

Those former AG senior staffers sat in the chamber behind their former boss as prosecutors used their testimony in their closing argument. After Murr spoke, State Rep. Jeff Leach took the podium, and he mentioned the whistleblowers.

"I see some of the whistleblowers are here in the gallery this morning," Leach said. "These are men and women of high esteem, character, and conservative to the core. You courageously spoke out knowing the consequences and taking the risks. Much like all of us had to do and will have to do with this vote."

Before Leach ended, he quoted MLK and left Senators with a message. "There comes a time for each of us, there will come a time for you, I believe this is it, not to ask yourself what is safe, or popular, or politic, but what is right," Leach said.

After hearing closing arguments, Patrick charged the jury. He instructed them they'll deliberate.

What's next

If they can't reach a verdict by 8:00 p.m., they're allowed to leave. They would have to return on Saturday. If a verdict isn't reached by Sunday night, Patrick said Senators would be forced to sleep at the capitol.

When a verdict is reached, Patrick said he would give the public and media time to head to the chamber where Senators will vote on each of the articles of impeachment. If Paxton is convicted of at least one, another vote will take place on whether he can ever run for office again.

ABC13 will continue to monitor the trial, and bring you updates throughout the day.

Thursday, Sept. 14

5:33 p.m. The defense rests after calling four witnesses.

The drama of Day 7 was replaced with the legal minutia of an open records expert on the morning of Day 8.

As the defense began presenting its case Thursday morning, it called Justin Gordon as its first witness. Gordon is the open records chief at the Office of Attorney General. He has worked there since 2015, and he testified specifically about a pair of charges in the articles of impeachment. Both Articles 3 and 4 charge the suspended attorney general of violating the Public Information Act in a variety of ways. One charge alleges he refused to release records the law required him to make public. Another alleges he illegally released information to Nate Paul that was not available to others. The defense is trying to prove through Gordon's testimony that he did not violate any laws and that when his office did not release records it was because the request was improperly submitted.

We did learn as the day began that the House managers have roughly two-and-a-half hours left of their allotted time. The defense has a little more than eight-and-a-half hours. Once they have rested, or run out of time, each side gets one hour for rebuttal evidence and another hour for closing arguments.

After closing arguments, the jurors, who are the 30 state senators, will deliberate in closed session. Their vote on each of the sixteen articles of impeachment will be public.

After the jurors vote on the 16 articles, if they convict by a two-thirds majority, they will vote whether to permanently ban Paxton from ever again holding statewide office in Texas. The House managers had moved Tuesday to combine the ban with a conviction on any one of the 16 charges but withdrew that motion midday Wednesday.

ABC13 has confirmed that despite House Manager Attorney Rusty Hardin accidentally resting the case prematurely on Thursday, the House did not plan to call on any additional witnesses and that they needed the time they have left for cross examination of the defense's witnesses.

We have also confirmed that constituents have been calling the offices of state senators. Some Senators are getting them more than others, and the calls are coming "in waves." There are posts on social media asking Texans to call senators and voice support for Paxton.

Before the second witness took the stand, after a 30-minute break, we learned that the House managers objected to a previously announced "impeachment expert" witness, who would have been the first to testify for the defense, but the court ruled in favor of the objection and the expert cannot testify.

On the stand late Thursday morning was Austin Kinghorn, associate deputy attorney general for legal counsel at Texas Attorney General. He described himself as a conservative - 11 on a scale of one to 10 - and the defense began by indicating it will review each of the 16 articles of impeachment with Kinghorn. He said he believed Ken Paxton did not violate the laws regarding records or documents."

"His name is on the wall," Kinghorn said. "It's his agency and he is the duly-elected attorney general. So it's his law firm. He gets to see a file if he wants to see it."

He also said he did not believe the accusations against his boss, who he said was his principal and the "client" for whom he worked.

"I assured myself and assured my wife that if there were ever anything that I saw that were illegal or unethical, I would step away," Kinghorn said. "I'm still here. I am proud of the work we do. Proud to serve General Paxton. Proud to be part of this agency.

Also on the stand, the human resources director for the OAG, Henry de la Garza. He testified about employment policy at the agency, saying the dismissal of whistleblowers was within the law because it was due to failure to perform duties or insubordinate attitudes not related to their complaints to federal authorities.

"The state of Texas is an at-will state since, I think, 1877 or something like that, and it just means in Texas, you don't have a property right in your job. You can be fired for any reason," de la Garza testified.

Wednesday, Sept. 13

A stunning final hour of the seventh day of Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment took place on Thursday. A star witness was excused, and the prosecution mistakenly rested.

"The House board of managers called Laura Olson. She is present, but has been deemed unavailable to testify," Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said. That prompted one state senator to stand and question the ruling.

Patrick provided no explanation other than both sides agreed to the announcement. Sources told ABC13 the prosecution decided not to put Olson on the stand because she planned to plead the fifth.

Shortly after, the prosecution's lead attorney, Rusty Hardin, rested after questioning a former AG senior staff. He said he made a mistake and meant to pass the witness.

However, the defense jumped on the mistake and asked for a motion to have a vote to dismiss the articles of impeachment.

After about an hour, the defense pulled its motion and asked to present its case. Patrick decided to adjourn jurors at that time and asked them to return Thursday morning.

Earlier in the day, Patrick updated the chamber with how much time each side has remaining to present evidence. Prosecutors have about five hours. The defense has 10 hours. Each side started with 24 hours to present evidence.

The day started with a buzz in the chamber after the prosecution called its first witness of the day. Prosecutors called the woman who was allegedly involved in an extramarital affair with the attorney general.

After she was called, Patrick called both sides to the bench. A few minutes later, Patrick announced the rules state witnesses have 24 hours to report to the chamber after they're added to the list.

He said the alleged mistress was added at 3:53 p.m. on Tuesday. This meant she couldn't be called to testify until 3:53 p.m. on Wednesday. But after a long break, just before 5 p.m., Patrick said the alleged mistress would not be testifying.

Prosecutors then called Ray Chester. He's an attorney for the Mitte Foundation, which is a nonprofit at the center of one of the impeachment articles.

On the stand, Chester talked about how the foundation was involved with projects with real estate developer Nate Paul. Prosecutors allege Paxton abused his power to help Paul deal with authorities in exchange for favors, including helping to get his alleged mistress a job.

Chester said Paul tried to swindle them on investments. However, he said the organization said it did make money on some of the investments with Paul.

Prosecutors then called the attorney general's former personal assistant, Andrew Wicker. He was Paxton's assistant in 2020. During that time, Paxton's home was undergoing renovations.

Wicker said he was at the home when he overheard a conversation between Paxton on the contractor. They were discussing $20,000 worth of cabinetry and countertops.

Wicker said the contractor indicated he would have to check with Paul about the work. "I walked away with the impression that Nate Paul was involved in the renovations of Paxton's home," Wicker recalled.

Wicker said the conversation gave him concern. "Given the fact we were working on several items related to Mr. Paul, it felt as though there might be an inappropriate relationship there," Wicker explained.

Wicker said he later raised those concerns to Paxton. "He stated he appreciated me bringing his concern to him and that he then assured me that was in fact not the case," Wicker recalled.

Prosecutors also asked Wicker about the alleged mistress. While Paxton's home was undergoing renovations, Wicker said he said resided at the Omni hotel.

One day, Wicker's family was staying there as well, and he recalled an instance when he ran into Paxton at the elevator.

"Whenever the doors opened, two individuals exited," Wicker recalled. "One was Paxton. He was in workout attire, and he told us he was going to the gym. The other individual was in a dress and high heels and exited rather quickly."

Prosecutors showed Wicker an image of the alleged mistress, and he said it was the same woman from the elevator.

Finally, Wicker talked about what happened after senior staffers went to the FBI. He said he was contacted by the feds shortly after, which prompted him to retain an attorney.

"I retained Mr. Evans after being reached out to by the FBI and after being offered counsel by the office of the attorney general, I choose to retain my own counsel to look out for my own interests," Wicker explained.

After the FBI reached out to him, Wicker explained he asked people in the attorney general's office what he should do. "They indicated that they would not like me to speak to the FBI," Wicker recalled.

During cross-examination, attorney Tony Buzbee questioned Wicker about what he saw Paxton receive from Paul.

"You don't have any actual knowledge Nate Paul did anything for General Paxton other than buy a lunch," Buzbee said. "Isn't that right?"

"That is correct," Wicker responded.

During cross-examination, Buzbee showed photos of Paxton's home from 2020 and 2023. He said the photos show the Paxtons didn't receive $20,000 worth of cabinets and countertops.

After several hours on the stand, prosecutors called the man who was Wicker's boss. Blake Brickman worked in the attorney general's office in 2020.

He was one of the senior staffers who went to the FBI to report his boss. Brickman testified that Wicker came to him with concerns about Paxton's meetings with Paul.

"Attorney General Paxton was meeting privately with a man named Nate Paul without his security detail present, and without the meetings being on his official calendar," Brickman said.

Brickman testified that he eventually grew concerned with the AG's relationship with Paul. By the end of September 2020, he had seen enough and went to the FBI.

"I witnessed Attorney General Ken Paxton do brazen things on behalf of Nate Paul," Brickman explained. "He abused the entire office of the attorney general of Texas to benefit Nate Paul."

Part of the defense's argument for acquittal is that Paxton was re-elected two years after the allegations surfaced. Brickman was questioned about that on the stand because he sued the AG's office after he was fired.

He said after Paxton won re-election in 2022, his legal team approached him with a settlement before they could obtain evidence.

"I think Ken Paxton lied to the public for two years about our case," Brickman said. "Not only did we not have discovery, he did the opposite and lied to the public about our allegations."

The trial is expected to resume on Thursday at 9 a.m.

Tuesday, Sept 12

Another key figure central to the impeachment of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton took the stand in the historic trial on Tuesday, the sixth day of testimony.

During the first five days of the trial, we heard a lot about a man named Brandon Cammack, an attorney Paxton hired in 2020 as what's been called a special prosecutor. The court heard directly from Cammack himself on Tuesday.

Cammack is a Houston attorney whom Attorney General Paxton hired as an outside attorney to investigate developer Nate Paul's claims of unjust treatment at the hands of federal and state law enforcement. Cammack testified Paxton wanted him to do the work nobody in his office would handle.

"He made a comment that you had to have some guts to work on a case like this, and I was fired up to have the opportunity to do it," Cammack said.

Cammack testified he communicated with Paxton about Paul's case through an encrypted app called Signal, an encrypted email address through Proton Mail, and two cell phone numbers. He said they never communicated through Paxton's official office email or office phone, and that he never received official identification or credentials.

House Manager, Attorney Rusty Hardin: "Did you assume originally that you would be working with the Attorney General's staff as you gathered information and that that would mean you would be working with a division head?"

Brandon Cammack: "I did. Obviously, as a solo practitioner, I don't have access to a lot of the resources that government offices have, and so, I thought I would be dealing with or meeting with some of these individuals.

The testimony tried to bolster the house managers' arguments that Paxton's hiring of Cammack was for developer Nate Paul's benefit and not the state's, and that Paxton was helping Paul with Paul's legal troubles and, in so doing, broke the law himself.

"I did everything at (Paxton's) supervision," Cammack testified. "I kept him informed on everything, reached out to the Travis County District Attorney's Office, and introduced myself regarding the grand jury subpoenas. I mean, I got affirmation the entire time that everything was good, and no one said anything different until I got a cease-and-desist letter.

He also testified that he signed a contract to work for the AG as an outside counsel, but Paxton never signed it. And when he submitted an invoice for payment for his work, he was told he did not have a valid contract.

Monday, Sept. 11

The second week of Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment trial started similar to how the first week ended. Paxton continues to be absent from the chamber. Also, the prosecution continues to call former senior staffers from the AG's office.

Before the trial restarted, Senators gathered at the front of the chamber for a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick then updated the chamber on how much time is remaining.

Both sides get 24 hours to present evidence. Each has used about 10 hours. Patrick said they intend to work until 7 p.m. each night, and the case could be in the jurors' hands as early as Thursday.

After calling four former senior staffers who went to the FBI on their former boss, the first witness called on Monday morning was Mark Penley.

In 2020, Penley worked as deputy attorney general for criminal justice until he was fired. During his testimony, Penley talked about how Paxton was focused on Nate Paul and the federal investigation into him.

Penley said Paxton asked him to meet with Paul and listen to his accusations that a federal search warrant was altered. Penley said he and another senior staffer, David Maxwell, looked into the claims and found them hard to believe because altering a search warrant would be a felony.

"I thought it was crazy, and I was hoping the attorney general would drop it. He didn't," Penley said. "The idea that the state attorney general's office would go investigate the federal courthouse, investigate federal agents and also state agents that were task force agents on the raid, and those were agents from DPS and the state securities board. That we would investigate a federal magistrate judge and federal prosecutors is insane."

Penley said they did look into the search warrant, and it appeared there weren't any issues. "David Maxwell and I saw no merit to the complaint," Penley said. "We saw no state interest. We saw no evidence of a state crime violation."

Penley said despite his objections, Paxton continued to push for the AG's office involvement. "I also told him there was a great risk to him," Penley recalled. "This could look like bribery. This could turn into a criminal charge against him. I told him this could turn into a media scandal if it got out."

Prosecutors questioned Penley for about three hours. During cross-examination, defense attorneys questioned Penley if he had evidence of a bribe in September 2020.

Penley said he had circumstantial evidence, but that's all. He said he brought eyewitness accounts to the FBI, but he brought no physical evidence.

After being on the stand for nearly four hours, Penley finished testifying. The second witness of the day was former attorney general chief of staff, Katherine "Missy" Cary.

Cary said she was the first female chief of staff ever to serve the state's attorney general office. Her testimony shifted the focus from staffers going to the FBI to Paxton's alleged affair.

"The attorney general told me about it," Cary recalled. "I was also told by the security detail and the travel aides."

Cary said the alleged affair led to problems within the attorney general's office, years before issues with Paul arose, and she had a warning for her boss.

"These things can open one up to bribery, misuse of office, misuse of state time, things like that," Cary said.

While Cary talked about the affair, Ken Paxton's wife, Senator Angela Paxton, sat feet away. During the testimony, Paxton sat taking notes.

After calling six whistleblower witnesses from the attorney general's office, prosecutors turned to the Travis County district attorney's office. Former Travis County ADA, Gregg Cox, and former Travis County DA, Margaret Moore took the stand.

Each testified about times Paxton approached them about allegations involving Paul. Moore called the allegations ridiculous and said her office had no intention of investigating the matter.

Moore, who's a Democrat, said she considered the Republican AG a friend, which is why she agreed to meet with him. However, she said the conspiracy Paxton brought to her was incredibly hard to believe.

However, the defense team argued Moore couldn't know if the claims weren't true because she never investigated them. During cross-examination, attorney Tony Buzbee highlighted other cases where the FBI was accused of wrongdoing, saying it's not unrealistic for the AG to ask the DA to investigate claims.

Patrick ended the fifth day of the trial giving an update on time remaining for both sides to present evidence. The House impeachment team has less than ten hours. The defense has about 12 hours.

The trial will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Friday, Sept. 8

As testimony resumes, the cross-examination of Ryan Vasser, whistleblower and former Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel, continues. Though minutes into the testimony, which focused on private group texts in which OAG employees discussed their coworkers, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced a 30-minute recess. ABC13 learned the recess was due to an urgent medical appointment for a senator.

Senator Boris Miles later posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he "had to leave briefly to take care of a personal matter, but he is now headed back to the Capitol."

Testimony resumed around 10:20 a.m. Friday after Miles approached the dais at the front of the Senate Chamber and shook hands with Lt. Gov. Patrick.

The defense attorneys for Paxton then picked up where they left off Thursday with their aggressive approach to questioning the former Paxton deputies turned whistleblowers.

They went straight to the heart of Article of Impeachment number five, which alleges that Paxton hired an outside counsel named Brandon Cammack to investigate perceived enemies of developer Nate Paul. They questioned Vassar about who actually authorized the hiring of an outside counsel.

Attorney: Jeff Mateer told you to sign this contract.

Vassar: Yes, sir, he did.

Attorney: Not Ken Paxton. Jeff Mateer told you to sign this contract with Brandon Cammack, right?

Vassar: In my conversations with Jeff--

Attorney: No one but Jeff Mateer told you to sign this contract. Right? Right? Jeff Mateer was the only person that spoke to you about signing the contract. Ken Paxton didn't didn't cause you or compel you to sign it, did he?

Vassar: No, sir.

After Vassar, attorney Dick DeGeurin, another well-known Houston attorney, called David Maxwell, a former Texas Ranger and former law enforcement director at the Attorney General's office. This was DeGuerin's first witness. Attorney Rusty Hardin handled the previous three.

Maxwell testified at length about how he was asked to help developer Nate Paul with what Paul considered a conspiracy against him. Maxwell met with Paul and Paul's attorney to listen to the complaints but refused to open an investigation into federal authorities who were, in turn, investigating Paul. Maxwell said he told Paxton he would not do it and urged Paxton to distance himself.

"My evaluation of the allegations made by Nate Paul is that they were absolutely ludicrous," Maxwell said, "without merit, no probable cause, not even reasonable belief that a crime had been committed. I told (Paxton) Nate Paul was a criminal, that he was running a Ponzi scheme that would rival Billy Sol Estes, and that if he didn't get away from this individual and stop doing what he was doing, he was going to get himself indicted."

Billy Sol Estes was a notorious Texas con man in the 1950s and 60s.

Maxwell also testified that he believed he would be fired for not complying and that he later was fired in November 2022 -- a move he testified was retaliation.

As of late afternoon, Friday, Maxwell remained on the stand under cross-examination. Defense Attorney Dan Cogdell handled the cross, and despite asking probing questions of the former Ranger, he showed deference to a man he characterized as a legendary figure in Texas law enforcement.

Also, after the lunch break, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced that by the end of the day, both the prosecution and defense would be more than halfway through their allotted time for the trial. Each side gets a total of 27 hours, 24 of which are for testimony.

Thursday, Sept. 7

Center of attention remains absent from trial

The third day of Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment trial continued with a former senior AG staff on the stand. Ryan Bangert served as the deputy first assistant attorney until he resigned.

He was one of the whistleblowers who went to the FBI on Paxton. During the trial on Thursday, he was asked why he went to the FBI.

"In my view, there was simply nothing more we could do," Bangert explained. "The course of actions have played themselves out. The attorney general was determined to follow these actions in favor of Nate Paul."

Paxton is accused of abusing his power to help Paul. He donated $25,000 to his re-election campaign. In exchange, the House impeachment team said Paxton received favors that involved a woman with whom he was having an affair.

The House impeachment team said Paxton had opinions drafted to help Paul and hired counsel to investigate law enforcement who was looking at Paul's business.

Bangert said he took part in a lunch with Paxton and Paul where they discussed a lawsuit the AG's office had intervened in that was attached to Paul. After the meeting, Bangert told another attorney general staffer, "That was the craziest thing I've ever seen."

Bangert said for months, the AG's office was spending a lot of time focused on one person, instead of other important issues, especially during the pandemic.

After months of concern, he said it reached a boiling point in September of 2020. "The power of our office at that point had been fully harnessed to advance Nate Paul's interests and we had lost the ability to as senior staff to protect our principal," Bangert said.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Tony Buzbee asked one of the whistleblowers if they staged a coup to overthrow the AG. On Thursday, House impeachment team prosecutor, Rusty Hardin asked Bangert if the whistleblowers were involved in mutiny.

"It was not a mutiny," Bangert said. "We were protecting the interests of the state and ultimately protecting the interests of the attorney general and, in my view, signing our professional death warrant at the same time."

Anthony Osso asked questions for the defense. Things got heated between Osso and Bangert when the FBI meeting was discussed.

"Did you tell Ken Paxton that you were going to go to the FBI," asked Osso. "On September 30th, we did not," Bangert replied.

"It's a yes or no question, Mr. Bangert," Osso said. "It is not a yes or no question, counsel," Bangert said.

The FBI meeting continued to play a role in the afternoon when the second witness of the day was called to the stand. Ryan Vassar, who was a former AG senior staffer, also went to the FBI.

He got emotional when he was asked if his decision to contact authorities was because he went rogue. "It's contrary, the statement of being rogue, is contrary to the years that I dedicated to the state," Vassar said as he wiped away tears.

While this took place, one person remained absent. Paxton was once again not at his impeachment trial. He left during the lunch break on the first day, and hasn't returned.

Legal expert Steve Shellist said on Wednesday to ABC13 that the move could work in the House impeachment team's favor. "I think we should expect that we're going to hear comments from Mr. Hardin as to why Mr. Paxton isn't present in the courtroom," Shellist said. "There will be some jabs that will be thrown."

On Thursday, the last thing Hardin mentioned while questioning Bangert was the fact Paxton was not in attendance on Wednesday and Thursday.

Day 3 of the trial is expected to last until 6 p.m.

The Texas Senate convened a second day in the impeachment trial of Ken Paxton, as his former top deputies, reported to have blown the whistle on their old boss, took the stand.

Wednesday, Sept. 6

An affair and FBI whistleblower

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton again stayed away from his impeachment trial Wednesday as one of his former aides who reported him to the FBI in 2020 testified that he confronted the Republican about why he appeared to keep going out of his way to help one of his donors.

"The problem is the office is being used for the benefit of one person," Jeff Mateer, who was Paxton's second-in-command at the Texas attorney general's office, said.

Mateer is the first key witness in a trial that could last weeks in the Texas Senate and centers on allegations that Paxton, who has been shadowed for years by a criminal indictment and a separate ongoing FBI investigation, abused his office to help an Austin real estate developer named Nate Paul. Their relationship is central to the case led by Republican impeachment managers that Paxton should be removed from office.

Mateer worked for Paxton from 2016 until he resigned in 2020 ahead of going to the FBI with concerns about what he thought was Paxton's misconduct.

"I concluded that Mr. Paxton was engaged in conduct that was immoral, unethical, and I had a good faith belief it was illegal," Mateer testified. "The attorney general is not above the law. He has to comply with the law like all of us."

Mateer is one of more than 100 people who have been identified as potential witnesses for the trial, according to a list obtained by the Associated Press. They include other former close Paxton aides and a woman with whom Paxton acknowledged having an extramarital affair and who worked for Paul.

Mateer testified that Paxton and his wife, Senator Angela Paxton, had a meeting with senior staff in 2018 to acknowledge the affair.

"We had a meeting at the campaign office at which Mr. Paxton revealed that he had been engaged in an extramarital affair and asked for our forgiveness," he testified. "It was very emotional."

Under cross-examination, Paxton's attorney, Tony Buzbee, tried to torpedo Mateer's actions as rash and uninformed, if not conspiratorial.

"And in order to protect Ken Paxton, you called the FBI, right?" Buzbee asked Mateer. "That's how you protected your friend?"

Also Wednesday. Paxton's team waived the right to object to any evidence of testimony as "privileged." They raised the objection multiple times during the early hours of the trial but began day two by telling the court that it was no longer part of their defense.

"In the interest of time, your honor, for our jurors, and because Attorney General Ken Paxton has nothing to hide," Buzbee said, "we are going to withdraw our objection and save us all a lot of time."

Tuesday, Sept. 5

Trial begins

The historic impeachment trial of Paxton began Tuesday with accusations of corruption that went unchecked for years and the Republican pleading not guilty.

But the day ended without Paxton around at all -- he left and did not return after the state Senate overwhelmingly rejected his numerous attempts to dismiss the charges. His absence does not stop Texas' first impeachment trial in nearly 50 years but demonstrates the potential twists ahead in the coming weeks.

What to know about the trial

The embattled Paxton faces a myriad of charges -- 16 articles of impeachment. His judge and jury are Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and the Texas Senate.

Paxton, serving his third elected term (though currently suspended), is fighting for his political future. Not only might he not regain his job as the state's top government lawyer, but if convicted in the impeachment trial, he could face the prospect of being prohibited from ever running for statewide office again.

Prosecuting him is a board of managers, which consists of a dozen Republicans and Democrats from the Texas House-which overwhelmingly voted to impeachment Paxton back in May.

SEE ALSO: New poll shows how Texans feel about AG Ken Paxton's impeachment days before trial

They have hired legendary Houston attorneys Rusty Hardin and Dick Deguerin to lead the effort.

At the top of Paxton's defense team is another legal heavy hitter from Houston, Tony Buzbee.

All 31 senators will serve as jurors. However, one senator must be present but cannot speak or have a vote in either the private deliberations or the public trial: Ken Paxton's wife, Angela, who refused to recuse herself and is prohibited from participating according to the impeachment's rules. It will take a two-thirds majority, as many as 21 senators, to convict.

RELATED: What to know about Texas' extraordinary move to impeach GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton

ABC13 discussed the complexity of this once-in-a-century trial with our panel of political insiders on our program This Week in Texas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.