Updated 8:10 p.m. Sept. 13

The House impeachment team abruptly—and accidentally—rested its case against suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 13.

House prosecutor Rusty Hardin immediately tried to take it back, but his request was denied by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“I messed up and shouldn’t have rested,” Hardin said.

The defense team declined to cross-examine the House’s last witness, whistleblower Blake Brickman, and instead filed a motion for a “directed verdict.” The motion argued the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove their case.

If senators approved the motion, they would have essentially dismissed the case.

After about 30 minutes of closed-door deliberations from eligible jurors, Patrick announced the defense had withdrawn its motion. The attorney general’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is present for the trial but is not eligible to vote or deliberate due to a conflict of interest.

The Senate adjourned shortly after, ending the delay-filled seventh day of the trial.

The defense’s first witness, Michael Gerhardt, is expected to testify at 9 a.m. Sept. 14. Gerhardt is a law professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and specializes in constitutional law, including impeachments.
Updated 5:20 p.m. Sept. 13

Laura Olson, the woman Ken Paxton allegedly had an extramarital affair with, is no longer expected to testify.

The House impeachment team originally called Olson to the witness stand around 9 a.m. Sept. 13. Due to a rule that witnesses must be given 24 hours’ notice before they are called to testify, Olson was not eligible until the afternoon.

But just before 5 p.m., Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the court, announced Olson was “present but deemed unavailable to testify.”

Both sides agreed to the change, Patrick said, but he did not provide further details.

Olson was seen leaving the building shortly after the announcement.

A livestream of the trial is available here.
Updated 4:45 p.m. Sept. 13

Blake Brickman, Ken Paxton’s former deputy attorney general for policy and strategic initiatives, said his office was “about 5 feet away” from Paxton’s. Based on his observations in 2020, Brickman testified he “was very concerned that Mr. Paxton was breaking the law.”

Brickman is one of seven former staffers who on Sept. 30, 2020, reported Paxton to federal authorities for allegedly abusing his office to benefit campaign donor Nate Paul along with other misconduct.

“We took firsthand, personal knowledge of Ken Paxton’s illegal, immoral and unethical conduct to the FBI,” Brickman testified, building on previous testimony from the other whistleblowers that their observations served as evidence.

After the FBI report, Brickman said he experienced “an extremely hostile work environment.”

Paxton’s First Assistant Brent Webster and an armed woman “threatened” him, Brickman testified. Brickman said he lost access to Paxton’s schedule, which he oversaw, and was not allowed to complete other tasks.

Brickman was asked whether he wanted to receive severance or to be terminated. He testified he had done nothing wrong and was “not gonna resign to take severance.”

He was fired Oct. 20, 2020, Brickman testified.

Brickman and three other whistleblowers sued Paxton the following month for retaliating against them after they reported their concerns to authorities. Paxton asked the Texas Legislature to fund the $3.3 million settlement, and the case has not yet been resolved.
Updated 12:45 p.m. Sept. 13

After top deputies from the attorney general’s office reported Ken Paxton to federal authorities, the FBI contacted Drew Wicker in October 2020, he testified.

The attorney general’s office asked Wicker, who served as Paxton’s personal aide, not to speak with the FBI, he said.

Wicker said the agency offered him an attorney, but he told them he “​​would feel more comfortable retaining [his] own counsel to look out for [his] interests.”

Wicker resigned Nov. 2, 2020, he testified. He said the attorney general’s office stopped paying him right away, but he continued to receive a stipend from Paxton’s campaign “until the following year.”

Paxton said Wicker could keep the money, Wicker testified, but he chose to donate it back to the campaign.

“I didn’t do any work [during that time],” Wicker said.
Updated 11:50 a.m. Sept. 13

Drew Wicker, Ken Paxton’s former executive aide, was called to testify Sept. 13. Wicker said he traveled with the attorney general, accompanied him to daily meetings and events, maintained his schedule and more. He worked for the attorney general’s office and Ken Paxton’s campaign.

Wicker said he was concerned Paxton had an “inappropriate relationship” with Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor and campaign donor.

Wicker “[got] the impression that Nate Paul was involved” in paying for $20,000 in renovations of Paxton’s Austin home during the summer of 2020, Wicker testified. The attorney general assured him there was nothing going on, Wicker said, but he was “still uneasy” about the situation.

The majority of the 16 impeachment charges against the suspended attorney general accuse Paxton of misusing office resources to help Paul. The House impeachment team has alleged Paxton also accepted bribes from Paul.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Tony Buzbee noted Wicker spent a lot of time with Paxton, “sometimes more than his wife, Angela.”

“You aren’t accusing him of bribery, ... of any wrongdoing, right?” Buzbee asked.

Wicker said he was “not accusing anyone of anything.” Wicker also agreed he did not have “direct knowledge” that Paul did anything for Paxton other than buying him lunch.
What’s happening?

The seventh day of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial began at 9 a.m. Sept. 13.

The House impeachment team called its 13th witness, Austin lawyer Ray Chester. He represents the Mitte Foundation, a nonprofit involved in investments and a lawsuit with Paxton’s friend and campaign donor Nate Paul.

One of the 16 impeachment charges accuses Paxton of harming the Mitte Foundation to benefit Paul.

Laura Olson, the woman whom Paxton allegedly had an extramarital affair with, is scheduled to testify. The House called her to the stand at the beginning of the day, but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick ruled she could not appear until the afternoon.

Witnesses must be given 24 hours’ notice when they are called to testify, Patrick said. Olson was not added to the witness list until the afternoon of Sept. 12, so she is not eligible to testify until 3:53 p.m. Sept. 13.

The attorney general’s wife, Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is required to be present for all testimony, including Olson’s. Angela Paxton sat quietly and took notes Sept. 11 as her husband’s former chief of staff discussed her knowledge of the affair.

Stay tuned

The House prosecutors are expected to run out of time to present evidence Sept. 13.

Each side was given 24 hours to question and cross-examine witnesses. The House had 5 hours and 17 minutes remaining at the beginning of the day, Patrick said, while Paxton’s lawyers had 9 hours and 57 minutes.

The defense has not yet called anyone to the stand, but Patrick said there are witnesses scheduled.