AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Nearly three weeks after Attorney General Ken Paxton’s acquittal in the Senate, the House impeachment managers released piles of evidence on Tuesday, many of which were deemed inadmissible during the 10-day impeachment trial.
The hundreds of pages of documents provide more information about the Paxtons’ home renovations central to one of the impeachment articles, as well as a behind-the-scenes transcript that details why Laura Olson — the woman Paxton is accused of having an extramarital affair with — ultimately didn’t testify after being called to the witness stand.
Transcriptions show Olson also planned to exercise her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, and parties wrestled over whether House managers could still call her to the witness stand. The new batch of information also details the alias Uber account that Nate Paul — the embattled Austin real estate developer key to accusations against the attorney general — allegedly set up for Paxton to use.
House managers alleged upgrades to the Paxtons’ Austin home were a bribe from Nate Paul —the embattled Austin real estate developer key to accusations against the attorney general. Article X alleges Paxton received the free home renovations in exchange for Paul getting “favorable legal assistance from, or specialized access to, the office of attorney general.”
New emails show the contractor, Kevin Wood, repeatedly contacted Paul via email to provide updates about the home renovations. The evidence also shows Wood was also asked to take the witness stand in the trial, but would not have answered questions by pleading the Fifth Amendment.
“Guys just finished applying 2nd coat of paint sealer,” Wood wrote in one message to Paul, to which the real estate developer responded “Great! Can you send me pics?”
House impeachment prosecutor Erin Epley said she and the managers accepted the outcome, but decided to release the documents because to provide transparency with the public. However, Paxton’s defense attorney, Tony Buzbee, called the move an attempt to “litigate the case in the press,” questioning the need for releasing this information after their loss in the impeachment trial.
“The case is long over, they lost,” Buzbee said. “I guess they could have put it into evidence, had they had any relevance. So I’m not sure what they’re doing.”
Attorneys on both sides acknowledge that this information might not have changed the trial’s outcome. Epley said it adds valuable context, as other aspects of evidence were not fleshed out due to time constraints. Each side had 24 hours to present evidence, question witnesses and cross-examine.
Epley emphasized the significance of Wood’s ties with Paul, while also pointing to incomplete invoices from the construction company, Cupertino Builders. During the trial, Paxton’s defense team said there was no proof of a bribe, noting he ultimately paid Cupertino Builders a little over $120,000 for their work.
However, Epley said the documents’ timeline further proves that Paxton only paid the company to cover his tracks, since the payment was made within 24 hours of the attorney general’s former top deputies reporting him to the FBI.
“The absence of evidence is evidence. There was no intention or documentation that suggested Ken Paxton ever had the desire to pay the bill and there was no bill,” she said. “That invoice did not exist until 7 p.m. on [Oct. 1, 2020] after the whistle blow, after notice that people were looking into it, after being directed to make a payment and it’s backdated.”
Buzbee questioned the relevance of the evidence, not giving any credit to the points Epley made.
“If that’s so evidence, why didn’t you put that in evidence,” he said. “This is just a bunch of sour grapes for people that have been embarrassed publicly because they put on a case that was miserable and had no evidence and now they’re trying to salvage their reputations.”
Paxton’s personal attorney, Dan Cogdell, has said federal authorities are actively investigating Paxton, but no charges have been filed. The attorney general denies any and all wrongdoing.
The initial release of information encountered issues, with the first batch lacking redactions of private information, including Paxton’s address. These documents have since been removed from the House’s website and replaced with redacted versions.