Ken Paxton impeachment: Aides defended their boss on Day 8

The political fate of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now in the hands of the Texas Senate after closing arguments wrapped up Friday morning.

On Thursday, the defense of Attorney General Ken Paxton rested their case. This came after the defense called multiple witnesses to try to exonerate the suspended attorney general. 

The first witness on the stand Thursday was Justin Gordon, the Attorney General’s Open Records Division Chief. He defended his boss and said Paxton did not improperly access information to benefit Austin developer and political donor, Nate Paul. During cross-examination, Gordon said his office’s original draft ruling was to not release the files in response to an open records request from Paul’s lawyer, but ultimately the files were released.

"Mr. Paxton did not summon you to his office to talk about this file?" House Prosecutor Erin Epley asked.

"Yes, he did," Gordon responded.

"He did not put pressure on you on either not rule against the requestor or release the information?" Epley asked.

"No, I would not classify it as pressure," Gordon responded.

Paxton’s HR Director, Henry De La Garza, also took the stand Thursday. He testified that the office of the attorney general justifiably fired several whistleblower employees who raised concerns about Paxton to the FBI.

"Did Ken Paxton ever indicate expressly or implicitly that these former staffers needed to be fired because they made a report to law enforcement?" Paxton’s Defense Attorney Amy Hilton asked.

"Not to my knowledge," De La Garza responded.

De La Garza testified they violated agency policy based on the information given to him from other staff members.


"You’ve heard the saying garbage in, garbage out, right?" House prosecutor Daniel Dutko asked.

"I’ve heard the expression," De La Garza responded.

"Then if Brent Webster is giving you information that’s not true, then your analysis is wrong, correct?" Dutko asked.

"I have to rely on the information that’s given to me," De La Garza said.

The House prosecutor pointed out the whistleblowers were fired within days or weeks of the report, and he used one of the defense’s sayings from earlier in the trial, "Have you ever heard of the expression, there’s no coincidences in Austin?"

Two motions made Wednesday did not survive Thursday. A motion made by the defense for summary judgment was rejected. A motion made by the house prosecutors to combine the impeachment votes with the vote to ban Paxton from running for office if convicted was withdrawn.

Closing statements will begin Friday morning.