AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The attorney representing the House impeachment managers accidentally rested the case Wednesday afternoon against suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton before the defense could cross-examine another whistleblower.
Editor’s note: This story is no longer being updated. Follow the latest developments in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial in this story.
After wrapping up questioning of Blake Brickman, attorney Rusty Hardin said, “The House rests.” He then apologized and added, “Here’s the problem: I messed up and shouldn’t have rested until [Tony Buzbee] finished his cross.” Buzbee then interjected by saying, “And yet you did.”
While attempting to backtrack his remarks, Hardin said, “The court is having to put up with a screw-up by me. I apologize.” However, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who’s presiding over the trial, held Hardin to his word and concluded, “Yes, you rested.”
Buzbee then made a motion for a directed verdict, which, if granted, would effectively dismiss the case on insufficient evidence and end the trial early. However, it was announced at approximately 6:20 p.m. that the defense withdrew its motion.
Paxton’s defense team said they planned to call their first witness of the trial. However, at about 6:45 p.m., Patrick announced the trial would adjourn for the evening and pick up again Thursday at 9 a.m.
It’s unclear if the prosecution intended to call more witnesses after Brickman, but it did not have much more time to do so. It started the day with 5:17:02 available and used most of it to examine Brickman and Drew Wicker, Paxton’s former personal assistant.
Paxton’s impeachment trial entered its seventh day Wednesday morning with Wicker’s testimony. Wicker was beside Paxton perhaps more than any other staffer and was one of the first to raise concerns about potential bribery and an extramarital affair.
Before lunchtime, Wicker testified he was asked to handle business relating to Paxton’s home kitchen renovations. After working with Paxton’s contractor, he became concerned that the work was being funded by Nate Paul, the Austin real estate investor and Paxton campaign donor at the heart of the impeachment charges.
“Given the fact that we were working on several items related to Mr. Paul, it felt as though there might be an inappropriate relationship there,” Wicker said. [Paxton] then assured me that that was in fact not the case.”
Tony Buzbee, Paxton’s lead defense attorney, introduced documents he purports to disprove Wicker’s concerns and prove a record of payment from the Paxtons for their home renovations.
Woman who allegedly had affair with Paxton in court Wednesday
Impeachment managers expected to examine Laura Olson, the woman with whom Paxton staffers say he had a multi-year affair. Prosecutors accuse Paxton of using state resources and accepting bribes to facilitate the affair. Olson was present at the Capitol Wednesday morning and was eligible to take the stand after about 4 p.m.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Olson was present to testify as a witness, but now she’s deemed “unavailable to testify.”
Patrick said both the prosecution and the defense agreed to the decision.