It’s game over for Texas AG Ken Paxton. A federal grand jury is now looking into his sweetheart deals with real estate developer Nate Paul. After what seems like almost a decade, action is finally happening on his case. That being said, what about Matt Gaetz and the trafficking minor girls across state lines for sexual favors paid for by Venmo? I guess we’ll have to wait another decade or so for that to finally happen.
Federal prosecutors have seated a grand jury in San Antonio and called witnesses close to suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to testify, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told the American-Statesman.
The purpose of the testimony is unclear, but it comes days after Paxton’s attorney confirmed last week that there is an active federal investigation of his client. Federal investigators began looking into Paxton in October 2020 following a report by top aides alleging that Paxton misused his position as the state’s top lawyer to assist a campaign donor, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, then the target of a separate FBI probe.
The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the grand jury proceedings, declined to identify the witnesses whom prosecutors have subpoenaed to testify. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment from the Statesman as of Thursday afternoon.
The secret proceedings come a month before Paxton is set to stand trial for impeachment in the Texas Senate, where the three-term Republican faces possible removal from office based on bribery allegations involving Paul. House impeachment lawyers say that Paxton, in exchange for assisting Paul in several legal matters, received a home remodel funded by Paul, and the developer also hired a woman with whom Paxton had an extramarital affair.
Paxton has been suspended without pay since May 27, when the Texas House overwhelmingly voted to impeach him, pending the Sept. 5. trial.
Paxton’s lawyer, Dan Cogdell, said Wednesday he has no confirmation that prosecutors are presenting a case to a grand jury.
“All I know is that no one from either the DOJ or the U.S. attorney’s office has been able to answer my most basic questions about any possible ongoing investigation regarding Ken,” Cogdell said.
It’s unclear when the grand jury was impaneled or for how long it will continue to meet. These proceedings are tightly guarded, with only jurors, prosecutors, court staff and witnesses allowed in the courtroom. Any indictment in this matter would be made public and allow the case to proceed to trial.
The grand jury presentation comes nearly three years after the FBI received the complaint against Paxton from the attorney general’s aides. The ensuing probe has been slowed by numerous delays involving the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Paxton’s reelection campaign in 2022, and, from this year, a change in prosecutors after the Justice Department in Washington took over the case from federal prosecutors in San Antonio.
In June, a separate federal investigation into Paul led to a grand jury in Austin handing down an eight-count indictment against the developer for mortgage fraud. Paxton is not named in Paul’s indictment. A trial is scheduled for July 2024.
Paul’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment as of Thursday afternoon.
Paxton’s Senate impeachment trial is expected to last two to three weeks, according to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the proceedings in a role similar to a judge.
Last week, Paxton’s lawyers filed motions to dismiss all 16 impeachment counts that House prosecutors say they will present at trial. His lawyers argued that the counts are false, lack evidence, or that, even if they are true, they are not punishable by impeachment. The House lawyers have until Tuesday to formally respond.
Support from two-thirds of eligible senators, or 21 of 30 members, is required to remove Paxton from office on any count. Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, is not allowed to vote and is prohibited from any meaningful role as a juror based on rules the Senate approved.
After the impeachment trial, Paxton will face an 8-year-old state securities fraud indictment. In that case, Paxton this month appeared as a defendant at a pretrial hearing in Houston. The presiding judge told lawyers to prepare for a February 2024 trial.