AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Monday prohibited those involved in suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial from speaking publicly about it.
The gag order applies to all members of the court and members of the House of Representatives, as well as witnesses, attorneys, and employees of any party involved.
“Out-of-court statements relating to the matters of this impeachment proceeding pose a serious and imminent threat to Warren Kenneth Paxton Jr.’s right to a fair trial of impeachment,” the order states.
The order calls some specific statements as “particularly egregious,” including those that some House members and attorneys on both sides have made to the press.
“After the Articles of Impeachment were preferred to the Senate, one of the House Board of Managers authored an opinion article published in major newspapers that used inflammatory and prejudicial language,” the order states, referring to House General Investigating Chairman Andrew Murr’s June 2 editorial.
The gag order took issue with Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin, the Houston attorneys prosecuting the case, using language like “crook” to refer to Paxton in a press conference. It also condemned Paxton’s defense attorneys, Tony Buzbee and Dan Cogdell, calling the charges against him a “sham” and “bologna.”
The order prohibits a wide range of public statements relating to the trial, including any statements concerning expected testimony, the existence or contents of any statement given by a party, the nature of any evidence, and any opinion regarding the merits of the articles of impeachment.
“I have received numerous questions on the upcoming impeachment trial,” Patrick said in a subsequent press release. “All 31 Senators and I are subject to communication rules which prohibit discussing the merits of the trial.”
As the presiding officer of the Texas Senate, Patrick will act as the judge in the impeachment trial. The 31 senators will act as the jury. If 20 Senators vote to uphold any of the articles of impeachment, Paxton will be removed from office.
The trial begins on Sept. 5.