Federal prosecutors have seated a grand jury in San Antonio and called witnesses close to suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to testify, two sources with knowledge of the investigation told the American-Statesman.
The purpose of the testimony is unclear, but it comes days after Paxton’s attorney confirmed last week that there is an active federal investigation of his client. Federal investigators began looking into Paxton in October 2020 following a report by top aides alleging that Paxton misused his position as the state’s top lawyer to assist a campaign donor, Austin real estate developer Nate Paul, then the target of a separate FBI probe.
The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the grand jury proceedings, declined to identify the witnesses whom prosecutors have subpoenaed to testify. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment from the Statesman as of Thursday afternoon.
Paxton’s lawyer, Dan Cogdell, said Wednesday he has no confirmation that prosecutors are presenting a case to a grand jury.
“All I know is that no one from either the DOJ or the U.S. attorney’s office has been able to answer my most basic questions about any possible ongoing investigation regarding Ken,” Cogdell said.
It’s unclear when the grand jury was impaneled or for how long it will continue to meet. These proceedings are tightly guarded, with only jurors, prosecutors, court staff and witnesses allowed in the courtroom. Any indictment in this matter would be made public and allow the case to proceed to trial.
The grand jury presentation comes nearly three years after the FBI received the complaint against Paxton from the attorney general’s aides. The ensuing probe has been slowed by numerous delays involving the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Paxton’s reelection campaign in 2022, and, from this year, a change in prosecutors after the Justice Department in Washington took over the case from federal prosecutors in San Antonio.
In June, a separate federal investigation into Paul led to a grand jury in Austin handing down an eight-count indictment against the developer for mortgage fraud. Paxton is not named in Paul’s indictment. A trial is scheduled for July 2024.
The hits just keep on coming for ol’ Kenny, don’t they? It’s like he’s a career criminal or something. The last news we had on this front was in February when the existing FBI probe into Paxton’s Nate Paul activities was transferred from the US Attorney in San Antonio to the Justice Department. This is all tightly connected to the whistleblower case and thus to the impeachment trial – indeed, the news of the Justice Department taking over this case broke shortly after the settlement agreement with the whistleblowers was announced. At the time, my biggest feeling about that settlement was that it meant there wouldn’t be any testimony about the Paxton/Paul shenanigans. We sure have come a long way since then.
As with all things related to federal investigations and grand juries, we have no idea what the scope or the timeline are. Maybe we’ll get some news in a couple of weeks, and maybe we’ll all have forgotten this ever happened by the time we next hear something. All I can say is that after so many years of delays and inaction and filings and appeals, it’s amazing to see Ken Paxton going through the wringer right now. I hope it’s excruciating for him. Link via the Current.