The names of witnesses for Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial must be submitted to the Texas Senate by Tuesday, but the public won’t know who they are until they’re called to testify.
Such witness lists are not public, according to trial rules drawn up by the senators. However, former agency staffers, a woman alleged to have had an affair with Paxton and a recently indicted campaign donor are among several likely candidates as all were named in recent legal filings submitted by Paxton’s defense team and the lawyers who will present the case against the attorney general.
The Dallas Morning News has identified 13 people who may testify in Paxton’s upcoming trial that begins Sept. 5. These individuals are named in the articles of impeachment, evidence filed by House impeachment lawyers and other documents as potential key witnesses.
Travis County prosecutor turned AG staffer Mindy Montford
Mindy Montford is a senior counsel at the state attorney general’s office in the cold case unit.
In 2020, she worked at the Travis County district attorney’s office where she was contacted by Paxton to review complaints from Paul about the raid on his business and home.
Montford attended a meeting between Paul, Paxton and other attorneys in which they spoke about Paul’s allegations that law enforcement violated his rights during the 2019 raid.
In an affidavit she submitted after she left the DA’s office, but before being hired by the Office of the Attorney General, Montford confirmed Paxton’s account that Travis County sought his office’s assistance in investigating Paul’s allegations against the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
However, Montford also appears to have cooperated with those who are prosecuting Paxton in the Senate trial. A House ethics committee subpoenaed her shortly after Paxton’s impeachment and a recent motion states that she sat for an interview with House managers on June 5.
The other names include the eight people associated with the whistleblower case, four plaintiffs and four others who did not join the lawsuit; Nate Paul’ Brandon Cammack, the inexperienced lawyer Paxton hired as a “special prosecutor” to run interference in the Nate Paul case; the alleged mistress, whose testimony I am absolutely dying to hear; our boy Drew Wicker; and Montford (a onetime Dem candidate for Travis County DA) as indicated. There was a paywalled Statesman article about her involvement the other day, which made me curious. So far, I know the least about what her role was. Regardless, I hope every single person on this list is called to testify. There’s not enough popcorn in the world.
(Also, too, the alleged mistress used to work in Sen. Donna Campbell’s office. But sure, she gets to be a juror.)
Someone who may or may not testify at the trial is Paxton himself.
Suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is fighting to stay off of the witness stand during his September impeachment trial, but prosecutors oppose the move, hoping to have the option of forcing Paxton to testify under oath.
Paxton’s legal team has asked Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who will preside over the trial in the Texas Senate, to forbid the House impeachment team from issuing a subpoena that would compel Paxton’s testimony.
Paxton’s lawyers argue that impeachment is a criminal proceeding, so Paxton is entitled to the same legal protections — namely, not being forced to testify — as any criminal defendant.
“Given that an impeachment trial is legally considered to be a criminal proceeding, there can only be one conclusion: the Attorney General may, but cannot be forced to, testify,” Paxton’s lawyers wrote in a July 7 filing to the court of impeachment.
Heading toward Paxton’s trial, set to begin Sept. 5, House impeachment managers argue that senators drafted and approved trial rules that give them the power to compel Paxton to appear as a witness.
No rule “limits the individuals who may be summoned to testify before the Senate. Specifically, [no rule] excludes Paxton from those persons who must appear and testify if subpoenaed,” they argued in a response filed with the court of impeachment.
While Paxton has a Fifth Amendment right to decline to provide incriminating testimony, he must assert that right specifically from the witness stand, impeachment managers argued.
I’m not interested in relitigating what kind of proceeding this is. Paxton can make whatever decision he thinks is best for him strategically. Given the evidence against him, I doubt it matters. But if he chooses not to testify, assuming he isn’t forced to, then please spare me any blathering about how he was silenced by the House during the process. Just, stop.
The impeachment trial will be held on the floor of the Texas Senate and will be open to the public, aside from final closed-door deliberations among senators when they attempt to reach a verdict.
The Senate has yet to release the full calendar and schedule for the trial.
If you want to attend the trial in person, here’s what you need to know, including how to get a ticket:
A ticket is required in order to receive admission to the Senate Gallery, According to the Senate guidelines, tickets will be distributed on the third floor outside of the Senate Gallery for the morning and afternoon sessions of the impeachment trial and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ticket distribution will begin at 7:30 a.m. for the morning session, and the doors to the Senate Gallery will open at 8 a.m. each day of the trial.
For the afternoon sessions, ticket distribution is to begin 45 minutes before the Senate Gallery is slated to reopen.
There’s a Ticketmaster joke in there somewhere, but I’m not quite up to it today.