AUSTIN (KXAN) — If one phrase got stuck in the minds of those who closely followed the Ken Paxton impeachment trial, it would have to be this: “There are no coincidences in Austin.”

The last mention of these words came Friday morning during the House impeachment managers’ closing arguments. State Rep. Andrew Murr, the Republican lawmaker from Junction with a signature handlebar mustache, deployed them after claiming prosecutors met the burden of proof through their evidence to support the 16 articles of impeachment facing Paxton. If enough senators ultimately vote to sustain even one of those articles, then they would remove Paxton from office.

“Is it a coincidence that Paxton ordered his people to intervene in the Mitte lawsuit when they had already waived intervention?” Murr said in his final remarks Friday. “Is it a coincidence that Nate Paul used the ‘midnight opinion’ to stop a foreclosure sale one day after the opinion was issued? Is it a coincidence that while discussing the Paxton home renovations, Mr. Paxton’s contractor told him at least three times, ‘I will have to check with Nate’? Is it a coincidence that Nate Paul gave Ken Paxton’s mistress, Laura Olson, a job while Mr. Paxton was doing Nate’s bidding? Is it a coincidence that within 45 days of reporting to the Trump FBI, every whistleblower was terminated or constructively discharged?”

After running through these examples, he concluded by pointing and exclaiming, “There are no coincidences in Austin.”

First mention of phrase

Before Murr dropped the phrase into his closing, attorneys from both sides kept bringing it up repeatedly to make points while questioning different witnesses about things like Paxton home renovation payments. However, the introduction of these words came into the trial’s lexicon from none other than Paxton’s chief defense attorney, Tony Buzbee. The veteran Houston lawyer known for his at-times dramatic delivery used the phrase for the first time while cross-examining the first whistleblower called to testify, Jeff Mateer.

Mateer, the former first assistant attorney general, went with six other top deputies to the FBI on Sept. 30, 2020 and shared their concerns about Paxton possibly misusing his office to help Paul. The seven whistleblowers signed a letter the following day on Oct. 1, which informed Paxton and his office that they reported him to law enforcement and sought a meeting with him.

On the second day of Paxton’s impeachment trial, Buzbee showed a document to Mateer. It noted Oct. 1, 2020 is also the date when George P. Bush filed to reactivate his law license in Texas. Bush, the former land commissioner, challenged Paxton in the Republican primary for Texas attorney general in 2022 and ended up losing in a runoff. Buzbee then had this exchange with Mateer:

“You ever hear that old saying, ‘There are no coincidences in Austin,'” Buzbee asked Mateer.

Mateer responded, “I’m not an Austin guy, so, no, I haven’t heard that one.”

“There are no coincidences in Austin — you never heard that?” Buzbee asked again.

“No, I haven’t,” Mateer said.

This line of questioning, which only lasted about a minute, eventually led to Buzbee’s fellow defense lawyers recycling the phrase at other times during their cross-examinations. Prosecutors also coopted it to fit their own arguments. A few other witnesses shared how they were also unfamiliar with the saying.

The frequent mentions of “no coincidences in Austin” caught the attention of people on social media and sparked conversations about whether it was in fact commonly used in Texas. Lauren McGaughy, a political reporter covering the trial for The Dallas Morning News, created a poll on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, asking her followers if they’d ever heard it. At least 244 people voted in the poll, and 91% said, no, they hadn’t.

Jokes also surfaced about the phrase on social media. Eleanor Klibanoff, a reporter at the Texas Tribune, posted this message on X: “speaking of no coincidences, the last time it rained in Austin was also during an impeachment trial, 106 years ago.”