Updated 7:10 p.m. Sept. 11

Former Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore was the eighth witness called to the stand by the House impeachment managers. Moore, a Democrat, said Ken Paxton asked her to look into a federal investigation into his friend and campaign donor Nate Paul.

Paul’s case “was going nowhere,” Moore testified. She did not open an investigation.

Typically, Moore said, she would have sent a rejection letter to the complainant and closed the case. But due to “Mr. Paxton's personal interest” in Paul’s case, Moore said she forwarded it to David Maxwell, the former director of law enforcement for the attorney general’s office.

“I was quite confident he would view this in the same way I did... [as] absolutely baseless and not worthy of investigation,” Moore told the jury.

Prosecutor Rusty Hardin asked Moore about a lawyer named Brandon Cammack in an attempt to quash claims that she appointed him as outside counsel to investigate Nate Paul’s case.

Moore said the idea was “​​astonishingly” false: “I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup today.”

During cross-examination, however, Moore agreed that “multiple people” from her office helped Cammack get the resources he needed to issue grand jury subpoenas.

“Is it true that your office was excited about pursuing an investigation into Ken Paxton?” defense attorney Tony Buzbee asked. He previously raised a similar question to Gregg Cox, Moore’s former director of operations.

“I can’t speak for the entire office, but I was not excited about any of this,” Moore said.

As the Senate adjourned for the day, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the House impeachment team had 9 hours and 12 minutes left to present evidence, while the defense had 12 hours and 14 minutes remaining.

The court of impeachment is set to reconvene at 9 a.m. Sept. 12.
Updated 6:20 p.m. Sept. 11

Gregg Cox, the former director of operations for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, testified that Ken Paxton “possibly” committed multiple crimes through his involvement with Nate Paul.

Cox said he met with multiple parties related to Paul’s cases and conducted a “preliminary investigation” into the matter in October 2020.

He found that Paxton “possible” criminal violations included bribery, abuse of official capacity, accepting gifts as a public servant and more, according to his testimony.

Cox said he told Margaret Moore, the district attorney at the time, about the possible offenses. Paxton has not been charged with any crimes by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Tony Buzbee pressed Cox about his team’s views on the case.

“The elected Democrat Travis County District Attorney [was] excited to go after Ken Paxton for a litany [of allegations], wasn’t she?” Buzbee asked.

Cox said he disagreed with his characterization.

Responding to another question from Buzbee, Cox confirmed that he applied to work for the attorney general’s office after filing a memo detailing Paxton’s possible crimes. Cox did not say precisely when he applied for the job.

A livestream of the trial is available here.
Updated 4:30 p.m. Sept. 11

The Texas House impeachment team called Katherine "Missy" Minter Cary, Ken Paxton’s former chief of staff, to the stand Sept. 11. Cary worked for the Texas attorney general’s office for over 20 years and served under four attorneys general.

Paxton told Cary he was having an extramarital affair in the summer of 2018, Cary testified, but she did not know the name of the woman involved. Cary said she later learned that woman was Laura Olson.

Cary and Paxton had “a good conversation, a productive conversation” about the risks of having an affair as a statewide official, she said.

“These things can open one up to bribery, misuse of office, misuse of state time,” she said she told Paxton.

At a September 2018 meeting at his campaign office, Paxton told top staff about his affair. His wife, McKinney Sen. Angela Paxton, was present during the meeting and looked “sad and embarrassed,” Cary said.

“My heart broke for her,” Cary said.

Cary said staff believed the affair had ended. However, Paxton said he was still seeing Olson in the summer of 2019, Cary testified.

He was “frantically upset” and said “he still loved Ms. Olson,” Cary said.

“I told him it wasn't my business who he was sleeping with, but when it boiled over into the office, it became my business,” Cary testified.

In response, she said Paxton “became red in the face” and raised his voice at her before storming off.

One of the 16 articles of impeachment discussed during the trial alleges Nate Paul bribed Paxton by hiring Olson to work for his company.

A livestream of the trial is available here.
Updated 3:30 p.m. Sept. 11

During cross-examination, defense attorney Michael Little asked Mark Penley if he was asked to do anything illegal during his time at the attorney general’s office.

“We were asked to obstruct a federal investigation; that’s a federal felony,” Penley said.

Penley said he had "circumstantial evidence" that Paxton was being bribed by his friend and donor Nate Paul. This included a $25,000 campaign donation from Paul, Paxton’s behavior and “his absolute refusal to listen to common sense and reason,” Penley testified.

The whistleblowers did not take documentary evidence to the FBI because “this was an initial report, and it happened in a hurry,” Penley said.

He testified top staffers went into “crisis mode” when they learned the agency had hired an outside lawyer, Brandon Cammack, to investigate state and federal authorities on Paul’s behalf. Penley and other deputies had refused to sign Cammack’s contract.

A livestream of the trial is available here.
Updated 1:50 p.m. Sept. 11

During testimony Sept. 11, Mark Penley, the former deputy attorney general for criminal justice, said he and other former staffers feared they would be fired for reporting suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton to federal authorities, but they did it anyway.

“We all knew this was an incredibly unique and dangerous situation,” Penley said. “We were the only ones who could stop it.”

Penley and six other top deputies met with the FBI for nearly four hours Sept. 30, 2020, he testified. They did not take physical documents with them, Penley said, but each whistleblower shared their individual experiences about Paxton’s alleged misconduct.

“I took my personal knowledge, and the others took theirs,” Penley said. “We were eyewitnesses.”

Penley testified he was placed on leave from the attorney general’s office Oct. 2, 2020, and was fired one week later. He and three other whistleblowers later filed suit, arguing that Paxton unfairly fired them for reporting their concerns to the FBI.
Updated 1:05 p.m. Sept. 11

Mark Penley, the former deputy attorney general for criminal justice, said he saw “no merit” to allegations made by Paxton’s friend and campaign donor Nate Paul.

Paul asked the attorney general’s office to investigate a slew of state and federal agencies, arguing they altered an August 2020 search warrant on Paul’s home when they did not find what they were looking for.

David Maxwell, Paxton’s former director of law enforcement, shared similar information during his hourslong testimony Sept. 8.

Penley and Maxwell met with Paul multiple times, but Penley said he found “no evidence of a crime.” When he informed Paul that he planned to close the investigation, Paul was “very unhappy” and “immediately pushed back,” Penley testified.

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

Paxton ultimately sided with Paul, Penley said, and opted to continue the investigation and “cut me completely out of the loop.”
Updated noon Sept. 11

Ken Paxton had a strong distrust of law enforcement, whistleblower Mark Penley testified Sept. 11.

Penley testified the suspended attorney general repeatedly urged him to investigate campaign donor Nate Paul’s allegations that federal and state authorities wrongfully targeted him.

“I thought it was crazy,” Penley said. “We hoped to slow walk it and hoped the attorney general would drop it. He didn't.”

Paxton emphasized his wariness of law enforcement in the fall of 2020.

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

Penley said this was likely related to Paxton’s 2015 indictment for felony securities fraud. The case is expected to go to trial in Houston next year, and an official date will be set after the impeachment trial wraps up.

Penley said his former boss indicated he had issues with the Texas Department of Public Safety, which investigated him for securities fraud.

“He doesn't trust the director [Steve McCraw] and he feels like the DPS ran a corrupt investigation,” Penley testified.
Updated 10:30 a.m. Sept. 11

State senators could begin deliberations in suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial as soon as Sept. 14, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced as the Texas Senate reconvened Sept. 11.

Patrick is presiding over the trial, while 30 senators are serving as jurors. The attorney general’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, must be present for the trial but is not allowed to participate in deliberations or vote on her husband’s fate.

Each side has about 14 1/2 hours left to present evidence, Patrick said. They will each have one additional hour for closing statements.

“From this point forward, there will be no days off until a final resolution,” Patrick told the jury.

Jurors will deliberate behind closed doors. They will then vote on whether to convict Paxton on 16 individual articles of impeachment. If he is found guilty, he will be removed from office and potentially barred from running for other statewide positions.

The House impeachment team has called its fifth witness, Mark Penley. One of the seven whistleblowers, Penley served as deputy attorney general for criminal justice under Paxton.

A livestream of the trial is available here.
The background

The second week of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial is expected to begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 11 in the Texas Senate.

The Texas House impeachment managers have called four of Paxton’s former top staffers to the stand so far: former First Assistant Jeff Mateer; former Deputy First Assistant Ryan Bangert; Ryan Vassar, former deputy attorney general for legal counsel; and former Director of Law Enforcement David Maxwell.

The witnesses, who all reported Paxton to federal authorities in September 2020, testified Paxton was "obsessed" with cases surrounding Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor and campaign donor. Each whistleblower said they repeatedly expressed their concerns to Paxton, who brushed them off.

“The attorney general was determined to harness the power of our office to fulfill the interests of a single individual against the interests of the state,” Bangert said. “In my view, [we were] signing our professional death warrants.”

Paul is connected to many of the 16 impeachment charges against the attorney general, who is accused of bribery, conspiracy, abuse of office and more.

Paxton pleaded not guilty to all the charges Sept. 5. He has not been present in the Senate since then.

Paxton’s lawyers have not yet called any witnesses, though they may this week. A list of potential witnesses includes other whistleblowers, a woman Paxton allegedly had an affair with and other Texas politicians.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ruled Paxton cannot be forced to testify during the trial. His wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is not on the list of witnesses for either side. She must be present for the trial but is not allowed to participate or vote due to a conflict of interest.

Each side has 27 hours to make their arguments. Both sides used nearly half of their time during the first four days, Patrick said.