Ken Paxton is not Donald Trump, and Paxton’s problems mostly do not involve Democrats.
With both investigations unfolding at once, it’s important to know the differences:
▪ Texas’ attorney general was impeached mostly by other Republicans.
Some were even Christian conservatives who once defended him.
▪ Paxton, like Trump, is facing a felony trial.
But Paxton is facing charges involving fraud against a fellow Republican lawmaker. Paxton also remains out of jail on $35,000 bond set by a Republican judge in predominantly Republican Collin County.
▪ Paxton, like Trump, is also facing an FBI investigation.
But Paxton’s is only beginning. The Department of Justice appears to be moving again on the three-year-old investigation around Paxton’s financial relationship with developer Nate Paul.
▪ Trump has overwhelming approval from Texas Republicans. They like him by a ratio of six-to-one, according to the latest Texas Politics Project poll.
Not so much.
Paxton’s approval rating among the same Texas Republicans is only break-even.
Many probably wouldn’t mind if he’d just quit..
Last week’s events in the various Paxton cases unfolded across three cities, like a split-screen thriller movie showing three plot twists at once..
In Houston, Paxton appeared in a state district court. Lawyers for both sides were agreeing to come back for an October hearing.
That’s when they probably will set a winter trial date on the felony securities fraud charges that Paxton has faced for eight years.
In Austin, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick became the focus of criticism as Paxton again openly defied Patrick’s gag order, sending fundraising appeals calling the upcoming removal trial “illegal” and a “scheme.”
A link promoted donations to Paxton on a site calling the impeachment a “kangaroo court.”
And in San Antonio, a federal grand jury began calling witnesses close to Paxton, apparently in connection with Paxton staffers’ past complaints alleging the attorney general helped Austin developer and campaign donor Paul fend off the FBI.
For one week, at least, it seemed as if Paxton’s world began caving in, and all at once.
Decatur criminal defense attorney Barry Green, a former prosecutor and district attorney who writes online about legal cases, wrote by email that he thinks the Justice Department took new interest after a new U.S. Attorney, Jaime Esparza, was confirmed in December and Washington prosecutors took over the case.
Green also guessed that might be why the Texas House went ahead with impeachment.
“This grand jury may finally be the result of the Justice Department’s renewed interest,” Green wrote: “ .... That would make sense from a timeline perspective.”
Let’s just say Paxton is about to be very busy.
This story was originally published August 11, 2023, 9:48 AM.