Ken Paxton impeachment: Paxton’s former aide testifies about affair

On day 5 of the Ken Paxton Impeachment trial, witnesses testified about the motivations behind why the Attorney General had allegiance to Austin Developer, Nate Paul. The defense claimed Paxton didn’t do anything criminal.

It was combative and an awkward day Monday with accusations of abuse of office taking a back seat to Paxton’s adultery.

"An uncomfortable experience," Paxton’s Former Chief of Staff Missy Minter Cary said.

Cary testified Monday about the meeting where her boss, with his wife State Senator Angela Paxton by his side, admitted he cheated on her with another woman.

"It's an experience I had not had before in my life. Somber, the word I'd use," Cary said.

"How did General Paxton's wife take it. How is she responding?" House attorney Terese Buess asked.

"Sad and embarrassed. I believe, that was my impression," Cary said.

"Was she crying?" Buess asked.

"She was," Cary said.

"Right. When you saw that, what did you do?" Buess asked.

"My heart broke for her," Cary said.

Cary went on to testify she was concerned the affair was not only affecting morale but was also a legal problem for Paxton.

"These things can open one up to bribery, misuse of office, misuse of state time, things like that," Cary said.

Constitutional Law Analyst David Coale agreed Paxton’s personal misstep is a factor in this impeachment.

"The claims between Mr. Paul and Mr. Paxton is that they did involve very personal matters, so that's why we're getting into that is, that's that part of the story now. Cringy or not," Coale said.

While the affair may not be a crime, Defense Attorney Tony Buzbee responded to the adultery and said, "Imagine if we impeached everyone in Austin that had an affair, we’d be impeaching for the next 100 years, wouldn’t we?"

The Articles of Impeachment portray the adultery as an accusation of bribery. Coale pointed out the impeachment trial is more of a political trial than criminal.

"The constitution commands the legislature to get together and legislate about the allegations that the House has made. And to be blunt impeachment is what 21 senators say it is if they reach a consensus," Coale said.

Did Paxton abuse his office by trying to help a political donor? A former top aide said circumstantial evidence proves Paxton broke the law.

"Speaking for myself, I thought it was crazy. And I was hoping the attorney general would drop it. He didn't," Paxton’s Former Criminal Justice Deputy Mark Penley said.

Defense Attorneys spent a lot of time Monday trying to show that the Travis County District Attorney’s Office was helping Paxton’s outside council pursue Paul’s claims, but former Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore testified her office never took Paul’s story seriously and was only trying to be courteous to Paxton in how they responded to it.

"It was a conspiracy that I felt was absolutely incredible and without basis," Moore said.

It was also revealed Travis County prosecutors were considering an investigation of Paxton, but the case didn’t move forward in order not to conflict with a federal investigation.


"I was concerned that as I had seen happen too often, the federal government would sit on it for a long time, and we might not see anything happen," Former Travis County Assistant District Attorney for Public Integrity Greg Cox said.

Buzbee was quick to point out Paxton hasn’t been indicted for anything related to helping Nate Paul. For members of the Senate, it’s a lot to process with corruption, mistrust, and adultery.

"I don't want to just be ghoulish about this. I don't want to hear all the private business of Ken Paxton, but if they're going to sell the impeachment case, they got to sell that part of it and give us some more ideas of what's really going on there, so we have the full story, and it's not just sort of inside of baseball in the attorney general's office," Coale said.

The trial will start back up Tuesday, Sept. 12. A verdict could be reached by the end of the week.