Paxton's former top aide wonders whether he had been blackmailed, aide testifies in impeachment trial
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sits between his attorneys Tony Buzbee, front, and Dan Cogdell, rear, as the articles of his impeachment are read during the his impeachment trial in the Texas Senate chamber at the Texas Capitol on Sept. 5 in Austin, Texas. Photo by Eric Gay/The Associated Press.
A former top aide to suspended Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he at first wondered why his boss was ignoring warnings about helping developer Nate Paul in his business disputes.
But the aide, former first assistant attorney general Jeff Mateer, learned something new after Paxton hired an outside lawyer to investigate Paul’s complaints about business rivals.
Paxton was having an extramarital affair, and Paul had hired the woman, allowing her to move to Austin, Texas, where she would be closer to Paxton, the aide testified.
The Texas Tribune covered Mateer’s remarks.
“It answered the question, why is he engaging in all these activities … on behalf of Mr. Paul?” Mateer testified Wednesday. “It seemed to be he was under undue influence. At times, I wondered: Is he being blackmailed?”
Mateer and other senior advisers decided to report the state attorney general to the FBI.
“I concluded that Mr. Paxton was engaged in conduct that was immoral, unethical, and I had the good faith belief that it was illegal,” Mateer testified.
On cross-examination, Paxton defense lawyer Tony Buzbee suggested that the aides had reported Paxton because they wanted to seize power.
“You were staging a coup, weren’t you?” Buzbee asked.
“Absolutely not,” Mateer said.
Mateer resigned after going to the FBI. He was not among the attorneys in the office who filed a whistleblower lawsuit and negotiated a proposed $3.3 million settlement, according to the Texas Tribune.
Angela Paxton, Paxton’s wife and a Texas state senator, was present during the testimony. She won’t be voting in the impeachment trial.