AUSTIN, Texas - Defense attorneys for Ken Paxton spent Friday morning portraying the whistle-blowers who accused the attorney general of wrongdoing as disgruntled employees.
Former top aide Ryan Vassar was grilled about text messages he had with fellow whistle-blowers. Defense attorneys asked him about several snarky comments they made about staff members at the office. One post included a meme that stated, "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Vassar also had to explain what he said on Thursday. He testified the whistle-blowers did not take any evidence of wrongdoing by Paxton to their meeting with the FBI.
Paxton's supporters quickly jumped on that statement. Friday House Persecutor Rusty Hardin spent several minutes with Vassar on re-direct to walk back the Thursday misstep. They noted the whistle-blowers took themselves, what they knew firsthand, and that it wasn’t legal to take hard documents out of the AG office without authorization.
"I believe that I was a witness to criminal activity that that had occurred by General Paxton," said Vassar, who added he expected the FBI to act as investigators, not them.
Friday afternoon, David Maxwell took the stand. He is a former Texas Ranger who worked notable cases like the investigation of the Branch Davidians in Waco.
As the director of law enforcement for the attorney general, he was directed to meet with Nate Paul, one of Paxton’s political donors. Paul, an Austin developer who is under federal indictment for bank fraud, claimed he was being unfairly targeted by federal and state officials.
His request for special help from the AG was based on accusation that Maxwell described as "Ludicrous." He refused to open a formal investigation and said he expressed his concerns about doing so with Paxton.
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"My concerns that we would be interfering with a federal investigation. We could be charged with obstruction of justice and based on a complaint that has absolutely no merit," said Maxwell.
Despite his concerns, Maxwell testified Attorney General Paxton wanted him to help Paul. Another meeting was set up, but unlike the first one, Maxwell said Paxton did not want it recorded.
House Prosecutor Dick DeGuerin had Maxwell to provide the assessment of Paul he gave Paxton.
"I told him that Nate Paul was a criminal. He was running a Ponzi scheme that would rival Billie Sol Estes. And that if he didn't get away from this individual and stop doing what he was doing, he was going to get himself indicted," said Maxwell.
Paxton did not take his advice and, according to Maxwell during the meeting, sided with Nate Paul. Maxwell claimed the differing opinions resulted in retaliation.
"In effect when he fired me and then berated me in the news. He ended my career," said Maxwell.
The trial is taking a weekend break and will resume Monday, Sept. 11. House Prosecutors have a total of 24 hours to present Witnesses. It’s estimated a third of that time may have been used so far in the first 4 days of the trial.