Another humdinger via Law & Crime
A former top staffer for suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that she warned her onetime boss — who is currently facing impeachment for alleged bribery and abuses of power — that his ongoing extramarital affair could potentially land him in serious trouble.
Katherine Cary testified on the fifth day of Paxton’s impeachment trial on Monday. Paxton is currently facing impeachment by the Texas House of Representatives after years of alleged wrongdoing, including taking bribes, obstructing justice in a criminal case pending against him, issuing improper grand jury subpoenas, and violating state whistleblower laws by firing employees who reported his misconduct. He is also accused of colluding with a real estate investor to employ a woman with whom Paxton had an extramarital affair in exchange for Paxton allegedly providing the investor with an FBI file related to an investigation of him. That investor, wealthy Paxton donor Nate Paul, was indicted in June for federal financial crimes.
During testimony, Cary told prosecuting attorney Harriet O’Neill that she was first alerted to the possibility that Paxton was having an affair after overhearing a woman speak about the attorney general in a “personal” way while eating lunch at a cafe in Austin in the spring of 2018. Cary said that she was alarmed about potential security risk and raised her concerns with the attorney general, but Paxton told Cary that the woman was a realtor with whom he was working to sell one of his condos. At the time, Cary said, she believed him.
Cary testified that she saw the same woman in May 2018 at an official event and later learned that she was Paxton’s “girlfriend,” local NBC affiliate KDFW reported.
While on the stand Monday, Cary identified the woman publicly for the first time as Laura Olson. Cary testified that Paxton confessed to the affair in a meeting with staffers and that Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton (R), was also at the meeting.
“My heart broke for her,” Cary said of Angela Paxton, according to KDFW. “I think I hugged her and told her I was sorry this had happened to her.”
Cary testified that she thought the affair would end, but she later learned that it was still going on — and that she issued Paxton what appears to have been a prescient warning, telling him of the potential ethical and legal challenges he could face, especially since she believed Paxton was asking his official staff to arrange his schedule to include time with his paramour since he still loved her and wanted the relationship to work.
Cary said that she took that to mean Paxton wanted her to accommodate his schedule for that very purpose, KDFW reported. She warned her then-boss that when his personal business became intertwined with staff responsibilities, it raised concerns about how staffers’ and security’s time and effort was being spent. Cary relayed that an incensed Paxton raised his voice before storming off, ending the exchange.
One of the impeachment charges against Paxton is that he shared an FBI file related to an investigation of Paul in exchange for Paul hiring the woman.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Angela Paxton is allowed to be present at the trial but cannot play a role in its adjudication.
On Tuesday, the Texas Tribune reported that the senators may reach a verdict as soon as the end of this week. Both sides were given 24 hours each to present their case and cross-examine witnesses, and as of Monday night — the fifth day of the trial — prosecutors had just over nine hours left. The defense, which hasn’t presented any witnesses and has only engaged in cross-examination so far, has around 12 hours left. Nearly 150 witnesses have been subpoenaed in the case and it appears unlikely that all the witnesses will make it to the stand.