Ken Paxton impeachment: AG's attorneys describe situation as 'self-licking ice cream cone'

On day 3 of the Ken Paxton impeachment trial, Paxton’s defense attorneys claimed the whistleblowers were influenced by the media to report the elected official to law enforcement. The top aides said they did so in good faith. Paxton is facing 16 articles of impeachment.

In court Thursday, there were tears, hostility, tons of objections during cross-examination, and from Paxton’s attorneys, some unique imagery to describe the situation.

"Have you ever heard the phrase ‘self-licking ice cream cone’ before?" Paxton’s defense attorney J. Mitchell Little asked Ken Paxton’s former deputy Ryan Vassar.

"No sir," Vassar responded.

"Let me explain to you what a self-licking ice cream cone is Mr. Vassar. A self-licking ice cream cone is when a bunch of employees at the attorney general’s office begins to suspect their boss, they read it in the media, they believe what the media says, they report it to the FBI, and then the media reports that you went to the FBI, that’s a self-licking ice cream cone," Little said.

The FBI came up many times in court Thursday, for different reasons.

The defense claimed Paxton’s executive staff went straight to the FBI with their allegation of misconduct without talking to their boss beforehand.

"Have you heard you’re being referred to by the Attorney General, all of you as rogue employees. What was your reaction when you heard that allegation?" House Prosecutor Rusty Hardin asked Vassar.

"The statement of being rogue is contrary to the years I dedicated my life to the state," Vassar responded.

"What’s your response to the suggestion that you folks were sitting around there cooking up a mutiny against the attorney general of the state of Texas?" Hardin asked Paxton’s former deputy first assistant Ryan Bangert.


"As in we were, I, that would make no sense to me. We were trying to protect the attorney general as much as we could," Bangert responded.

Meanwhile, the prosecution claimed Paxton went around the FBI to give Austin developer and political donor, Nate Paul, sensitive information to help him in his lawsuits.

"He asked us to review the file, he asked us what our interpretation of the file was, he told us that he had spoken personally with Mr. Paul, and he believed something bad had happened to Mr. Paul and he felt that Mr. Paul was being railroaded by the FBI and by DPS and General Paxton said he didn’t trust law enforcement. He asked us to find a way to release the information that had been requested to be withheld," Vassar said. "He asked me if he could obtain a copy of the DPS file."

"Did you provide him the file?" Hardin asked Vassar.

"Yes, I did," Vassar responded.

Vassar said Paxton directed them to release the briefing, but its alleged Paul was able to get his hands on the entire file through Paxton.

"They may have gotten the information," Vassar said.

"From some other way?" Hardin asked.

"Yes sir," Vassar responded.

There hasn’t been any hard evidence presented yet to show Paxton handed over the file.

"I want to get this straight, you went to the FBI on September 30 with your compatriots to report the elected attorney general of this state for a crime without any evidence. Right?" Little asked Vassar.

"That’s right, we took no evidence," Vassar responded.

Vassar’s testimony will continue Friday, Sept. 8 at 9 a.m.