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Paxton's attorneys call on Texas Senate to dismiss impeachment case, are 'girded up' for fight

A person in a suit speaks at a podium in front of a backdrop that says "Republicans of Texas"
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
Tony Buzbee, the lawyer representing Ken Paxton in his Senate impeachment trial, speaks during a press conference on Wednesday at the Texas GOP headquarters in Austin.

Attorneys for embattled Republican Ken Paxton are calling on the Texas Senate to dismiss the impeachment case against the suspended attorney general.

Tony Buzbee, the leading attorney representing Paxton, said Wednesday that the evidence used by the House is so flawed the Senate should not take it into consideration.

“Look at this foolishness, look at what has been put in front of you. If you even consider it — because no court of law would, no court of law in this country would even consider it — but if you decide to consider it should be thrown out in a one-page motion,” Buzbee said during a press conference at the Austin headquarters of the Republican Party of Texas.

The state Senate has yet to schedule a date for Paxton’s trial, but the Republican has been temporarily suspended pending action from the Senate.

Buzbee said if the Senate doesn’t dismiss the case, “we are girded up for a fight.” He added Paxton’s defense team has identified 66 witnesses who would need to be deposed, along with thousands of pages of evidence.

Paxton was impeached on 20 articles last month by the Republican-led Texas House, making him only the third official in the history of the state to be impeached.

Among the articles of impeachment are constitutional bribery, retaliation against former employees, obstruction of justice, disregard of official duty and abuse of public trust.

Paxton has denied all the allegations against him, calling the proceedings a “sham” and “illegal.”

Paxton is also currently under indictment for alleged securities fraud. He was indicted in 2015 and faces a separate federal investigation over alleged abuse of office.

Buzbee said Paxton was never given the chance to testify in front of House investigators. He also slammed House Speaker Dade Phelan and other representatives over the timeline of events leading to the impeachment, claiming it was way shorter than previous impeachments.

“The speaker’s followers and himself thought that they could pull off what can only be described as a drive-by shooting on a holiday weekend to politically assassinate one of the leading conservative voices not only in Texas, but also in the United States,” Buzbee said.

Rep. Andrew Murr, the leader of the impeachment managers and the chairman of the House General Investigating Committee, has said the investigation against Paxton was conducted appropriately.

“This is about facts, and this is about evidence,” Murr told reporters last week. “At the end of the day, my colleagues and I will not stand for public corruption.”

The Texas House launched an investigation into Paxton a few months ago after his office asked the Texas Legislature for $3.3 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Paxton’s former deputies.

They were fired in 2020 after they reported to the FBI Paxton’s misdeeds related to Nate Paul, one of Paxton’s political donors.

Paul was also not interviewed by the House committee.

Clash of the titans

The impeachment trial of Paxton in the Texas Senate is shaping up to be a clash of legal titans, with legendary Texas attorneys both representing Paxton and prosecuting the Republican attorney general.

Buzbee isn’t a new face in Texas’ legal controversies. As an attorney, he uses the slogan “Just Win.” He’s been successful in representing the parties involved in some of the state’s biggest cases.

Buzbee led the team of attorneys representing former Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, when criminal charges were brought against him nearly a decade ago. The charges were dropped.

He also unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Houston in 2019.

More recently, Buzbee filed a lawsuit for $750 million on behalf of over 120 people who died or were injured at the Astroworld Festival in 2021. At least two families, represented by Buzbee, reached a private settlement.

Also on Paxton’s legal team is Dan Cogdell, the same attorney representing him in his securities fraud case.

Cogdell has been involved in very high-profile cases as well, including defending Clive Doyle, who led the Branch Davidian cult after the 1993 Waco siege.

Cogdell and Buzbee will face off against two other big-name Texas attorneys — Houston-based lawyers Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin were hired by the Texas House impeachment managers to present the case against Paxton.

“These two men … bring decades of experience in high-profile criminal civil matters,” Rep. Andrew Murr, the chair of the impeachment managers, said last week. “I’m grateful that they have accepted the call to help the Board of Managers protect the rule of law and the integrity of elected offices in the state of Texas.”

DeGuerin defended David Koresh, who led the Branch Davidian cult at the time of the infamous Waco standoff. He also defended Robert Durst, a New York City real estate heir accused of multiple murders. Durst was acquitted of one of the murders after DeGuerin successfully argued self-defense on behalf of his client.

Hardin has represented a range of celebrities and athletes, like Roger Clemens.

Clemens was accused of obstruction and lying to Congress after denying he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Last week, in a press conference in Austin, Hardin said the impeachment case against Paxton is about a “pattern of misconduct.”

“I promise you it is 10 times worse than what has been public,” Hardin said.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the Texas Capitol Reporter for The Texas Newsroom. Got a tip? Email him at smb@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel.
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