Editor’s Note: This story is a recap of the Ken Paxton impeachment trial from Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Click here for the latest livestream and coverage of the trial.
AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas’ Court of Impeachment reconvened Tuesday morning for the second week of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial, leading off with testimony from Brandon Cammack — the outside counsel Paxton hired to help investigate campaign donor Nate Paul’s claims that are central to the articles of impeachment.
Outside counsel hired to investigate Nate Paul’s claims reported ‘directly to Paxton’
Cammack, a Houston attorney, had about five years of experience when he was hired to investigate Paul’s claims — which top deputies in Paxton’s office had previously looked into and testified they found them to have no merits. Cammack testified Tuesday that he was excited to work for the attorney general’s office and after meeting with Paul and his attorney, Michael Wynn, he thought Paul’s claims were “serious, if true.”
Cammack told the jury he was hired directly by Paxton who told him he would need “some guts to work on a case like this.” He testified the attorney general instructed Cammack to communicate to him via Signal, an encrypted messaging service, and called him from at least two different private cell phone numbers.
“The only person I reported to was Mr. Paxton, at his direction,” Cammack said. “I did everything at his supervision and kept him informed of everything.”
During cross-examination, Paxton defense lawyer Dan Cogdell read to Cammack line-by-line the allegations in the impeachment articles related to his hiring, arguing that no criminal acts occurred.
“You were not there trying to benefit Nate Paul or his business and entities. That’s not why you agreed to get involved in this agreement?” Cogdell asked Cammack, to which he responded “Absolutely not. I didn’t even know Nate Paul or his entities or anything like that.”
Cammack says he was misled by Paxton and never paid
Cammack testified that throughout the weeks he worked for Paxton, he repeatedly asked about receiving credentials, a government email and other ways that would give validity and authority for the work he was doing. He said Paxton repeatedly told him “we are working on that.”
After he began serving grand jury subpoenas to Paul’s adversaries, Cammack said Mark Penley — a former top OAG deputy who testified Monday — served him a cease-and-desist letter. Cammack told the jury from that point, he starting having growing concerns that he was misled about the job, which increased after U.S. marshals visited his Houston law office.
Shortly after, Cammack said he had a meeting with Paxton in which he said Paxton did not answer any questions about why the marshals showed up to his office.
“Basically got the rug pulled out from under me,” Cammack said. “I’m going and working, everything is OK. I’m getting affirmation that everything is good. And then all sudden, I’ve got cease and desist letters, U.S. marshals showing up at my office, and I’m trying to figure out how do we go from that to this?”
Cammack said later he was asked to travel to Austin for a last-minute meeting with Paxton and Brent Webster — who played a critical role as new first assistant attorney general in terminating the whistleblowers. Cammack told the jury Webster told him that his contract with the AG’s office was essentially void, and that he would have to “eat” the $14,000 invoice for the work he did.
Cammack’s questioning took up the majority of Tuesday’s hearings. Once he was dismissed late afternoon, House managers called three additional witnesses: Joe Brown, a former assistant U.S. attorney; Kendall Garrison, the CEO of Amplify Credit Union; and Darren McCarty, another former top deputy who reported Paxton to the FBI.
Paxton faces 16 articles of impeachment in the Senate that accuse him of abusing his powers as attorney general to help his friend and donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor who faced federal investigation and is central to many of the allegations against Paxton. The suspended attorney general pleaded not guilty to all impeachment articles on day one of the trial and has not been present in the Senate since then.
Tuesday’s session began about an hour late, after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said both defense and prosecution were settling some issues before the day could begin. Patrick reminded parties of how much time is left, with House managers starting day six with about nine hours left and Paxton’s team starting with about 12 hours left.