Updated 7:05 p.m. Sept. 12

Ken Paxton had an “unusual” interest in a lawsuit between Austin-based nonprofit Mitte Foundation and Nate Paul, according to testimony from Darren McCarty, the former deputy attorney general for civil litigation for the attorney general’s office.

Paxton approached McCarty with “a high level of interest ... that we should intervene” in litigation between the Mitte Foundation and Paul, McCarty said.

Paxton is accused of misusing agency resources to help Paul, his friend and campaign donor. McCarty said the attorney general’s office was supposed to make decisions about “what is in the public interest of the charity, not someone who’s working against the charity in a lawsuit.”

Paul “vigorously complained” and demanded the agency “do more” in the case, McCarty testified. The first article of impeachment against Paxton alleges he harmed the Mitte Foundation for Paul’s benefit.

McCarty said he talked Paxton out of appearing in Travis County District Court to personally argue the case.

It would send a “very odd message” if Paxton himself spoke at the hearing, McCarty said.

“He was the attorney general of Texas,” McCarty said. “He never appeared in court.”

McCarty said he found no evidence the Mitte Foundation was being improperly managed or run, despite Paul’s allegations. Paul argued the attorney general’s office was negligent and biased in favor of the foundation.

“I believed that the attorney general’s office had been... turned over by Attorney General Paxton to a private citizen to do his bidding, and it was acting against the interests of the state of Texas,” McCarty testified.

A livestream of the trial is available here.
Updated 6:10 p.m. Sept 12

Kendall Garrison, the president and CEO of Amplify Credit Union, testified that Nate Paul and his company, World Class Holdings, obtained loans from Amplify on three properties. Those loans became delinquent, Garrison said.

The credit union “intended to foreclose” on at least one of the properties Aug. 3, 2020, Garrison said. That was the first Tuesday of the month, when foreclosure sales typically occur in Texas.

The weekend before the sale was set to take place, the attorney general’s office issued a legal opinion stating that foreclosure sales should not occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Former staffers and the prosecution have called the ruling a “midnight opinion,” arguing it was rushed and Paxton was more involved in its drafting than normal.

Garrison testified the credit union had “no choice” but to pull out of the foreclosure sale after the opinion was released.

“Who benefitted from the foreclosure letter?” prosecuting attorney Erin Epley asked.

“Nate Paul and the World Class entities,” Garrison said.

One of the 16 impeachment charges against the suspended attorney general also alleges that Paxton ordered his staff to prepare the opinion to benefit Paul.
Updated 4:40 p.m. Sept 12

Brandon Cammack testified that after he received two cease-and-desist letters from top deputies in the attorney general’s office, Ken Paxton told him to keep investigating allegations made by Nate Paul.

Cammack received the two letters by email in late September 2020.

“They said I didn’t have a valid contract,” Cammack said.

Responding to questions from defense attorney Dan Cogdell, Cammack said he was under the impression he was legitimately employed by the attorney general’s office throughout the month.

Cammack testified he received a contract from Ryan Vassar, the former deputy attorney general for legal counsel, on Sept. 4, 2020.

“To me, it was very clear that I was being hired for this position, so I signed [the contract] and sent it back,” Cammack said.

“No one suggested to you during that month of September that they had their fingers crossed, and you really didn't have an agreement? You went through that month believing you had a valid contract with the state of Texas to be an outside lawyer?” Cogdell asked.

Cammack said that was what he believed.

U.S. Marshals arrived unanounced at Cammack's Houston office around the time he received the cease-and-desist letters, he testified.

Cammack said he called and texted Paxton multiple times after the marshals arrived, “blowing his phone up” until Paxton answered.

Paxton didn’t know why the marshals were there, but said not to talk to them without a lawyer, Cammack said.

Cammack told the jury he felt blindsided. Up until then, Cammack said, he had received “affirmation” directly from Paxton that he was doing everything right.

“I never got any pushback from anyone at the attorney general's office, the Travis County District Attorney's Office or anything until I got a cease-and-desist letter,” Cammack said.

Cammack later met with Paxton and his first assistant, Brent Webster, at their office.

“You guys reached out to me to come to a job and now you're pulling the rug out from under me,” Cammack said he told Paxton and Webster during the meeting. “I'm getting cease-and-desist letters, and now my name is being thrown through the mud in the media.”

During the first week of October 2020, Paxton asked him to again drive from Houston to Austin “on very short notice,” Cammack said.

Paxton and Webster then drove Cammack to a nearby Starbucks, which Cammack said was “unprofessional” and made him “uncomfortable.”

Webster told Cammack his contract “was not good anymore” and said he needed to “eat” a $14,000 invoice for his work, Cammack testified. He said he found the meeting, which lasted 15-20 minutes, “offensive.”

After the meeting, Paxton and Webster would have “driven off,” leaving Cammack at Starbucks, if he did not ask for a ride back to his car, Cammack said.
Updated 2:30 p.m. Sept. 12

Brandon Cammack issued several grand jury subpoenas on the officials and agencies investigating Nate Paul, who said he was unfairly targeted by law enforcement.

Cammack said he brought up the idea of the subpoenas to Ken Paxton, who “endorsed” it and told him to issue subpoenas through the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

Former Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore testified Sept. 11 that “multiple people” from her office helped Cammack get the resources he needed for the subpoenas.

Cammack testified he issued his first grand jury subpoena by email on Sept. 25, 2020. He told the jury he sent another 35-40 subpoenas by email.

Cammack also investigated Paul’s claims that some of his properties were being wrongfully foreclosed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael Wynne, Paul’s attorney, was “insistent” that he accompany Cammack to serve subpoenas in person on Sept. 29, Cammack said.

“Did he inform you there was a statute prohibiting an interested party from serving subpoenas?” House prosecutor Rusty Hardin asked.

Cammack said he was not aware.
Updated 1:40 p.m. Sept. 12

Houston-based lawyer Brandon Cammack said Ken Paxton contacted him almost solely through personal forms of communication, rather than official agency lines.

Paxton asked him to download the Signal messaging app and emailed him from a ProtonMail account, Cammack testified. Both platforms use end-to-end encryption.

“The first time I ever saw [Paxton’s] government email address was when I got a cease-and-desist letter from [former First Assistant] Jeff Mateer,” Cammack testified.

Cammack said he received "a lot of calls from unknown numbers or scam likely,” so he decided to get a separate phone to communicate with Paxton.

Paxton called him from two numbers, both of which he believed were cell phones, Cammack testified.

Cammack also did not receive official credentials while employed by the attorney general’s office. He said he had trouble issuing subpoenas and accessing information without a government email address.
Updated 11:30 a.m. Sept. 12

After an hourlong delay, the Texas Senate gaveled in around 10 a.m. Sept. 12. Lawyers from both sides had “issues” to sort out, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said.

The House prosecutors called their ninth witness, Brandon Cammack. Cammack’s name has come up frequently during the trial. Ken Paxton allegedly hired him to investigate claims that his friend and campaign donor Nate Paul was being targeted by state and federal law enforcement.

Paxton’s former top staffers previously testified that Cammack’s hiring, which they opposed, was one of the reasons they reported Paxton to the FBI.

Cammack testified he first met with Paxton about Paul’s case Aug. 26, 2020. Cammack said he was told that Paul’s lawyer, Michael Wynne, recommended Cammack for the case.

“[Paxton] said he was considering multiple people for the position, and his own staff would not work on it.. ... He wanted to find the truth about what happened," Cammack said.

Cammack met with Paul and Wynne for nearly two hours Sept. 4, 2020, he said.

“I was convinced by what I was shown," Cammack said.

Paul accused law enforcement of altering a search warrant on his home after it was issued in 2019. Mark Penley, Paxton’s former deputy attorney general for criminal justice, testified Sept. 11 that he saw “no merit” to Paul’s allegations.

“If their allegations were true, it would be serious," Cammack said.
The backstory

Time is running out in the impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the trial, told senators Sept. 11 the proceedings could come to a close late this week.

Both sides were given 24 hours to present their cases and question witnesses. As the fifth day of the trial wrapped up Sept. 11, the House prosecution team had 9 hours and 12 minutes left, while Paxton’s defense lawyers had 12 hours and 14 minutes remaining.

Witness testimony could be over by Sept. 14, Patrick said.

The House called four witnesses to the stand Sept. 11: Mark Penley, Paxton’s former deputy attorney general for criminal justice; former chief of staff Katherine "Missy" Minter Cary; Gregg Cox, the former director of operations for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office; and former Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore.

Cary testified that she warned Paxton repeatedly about the potential consequences of his alleged extramarital affair, which she said Paxton disclosed to her in the summer of 2018.

“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 told the prosecution.

Earlier, Penley testified he and other former top staffers spoke with the FBI for nearly four hours as they reported Paxton’s alleged misconduct on Sept. 30, 2020. Paxton faces 16 articles of impeachment, from bribery to retaliation against former employees.

They did not take physical documents to the authorities, Penley said, but each whistleblower shared their individual experiences from working under the attorney general.

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

Paxton’s lawyers have not called their own witnesses so far, instead using their allotted time to cross-examine the House’s witnesses.

The court of impeachment is set to reconvene at 9:15 a.m. A livestream of the trial is available here.