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At impeachment, lawyer recounts Texas AG Ken Paxton supervising his investigation into FBI and judge

Sep 11, 2023, 10:13 PM | Updated: Sep 12, 2023, 11:34 am

A member of the public arrives for day six of the impeachment trial for Texas Attorney General Ken ...

A member of the public arrives for day six of the impeachment trial for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the Senate Chamber at the Texas Capitol, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A junior lawyer testifying at Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial said Tuesday that he kept Paxton informed through encrypted communications of every step he took in launching a criminal investigation into law enforcement officials at the behest of one of the attorney general’s wealthy donors.

The testimony on the sixth day of the historic proceeding addresses a central charge against Paxton: that the Republican abused his office to help a local real estate developer resist FBI investigation by hiring an outside lawyer to look into the agents, a judge and other officials involved in the probe.

That lawyer, Brandon Cammack, told the jury of state senators who could decide Paxton’s political fate within days that he consulted with the attorney general about how to proceed. Cammack also said he kept Paxton apprised as he obtained a series of grand jury subpoenas with guidance from the developer’s lawyer.

“I did everything at his supervision,” Cammack said of Paxton.

Paxton has pleaded not guilty in the impeachment. He is not required to be present in the Senate for testimony and was absent Tuesday, as he has been for most of the trial. It was Paxton’s hiring of Cammack in 2020 that prompted eight of his top deputies to report the attorney general to law enforcement for allegedly breaking the law to help developer Nate Paul. Their allegations prompted an FBI investigation of Paxton that remains ongoing. Several of the former deputies have testified for the prosecution in the impeachment trial.

Paul was indicted in June on charges of making false statements to banks. He has pleaded not guilty.

Cammack testified Tuesday that he met several times with Paxton, Paul and Paul’s lawyer about Cammack’s investigation, and regularly forwarded Paxton information Paul’s lawyer was sending him about whom to target with grand jury subpoenas. Cammack said Paxton used the encrypted email service Proton Mail for these communications and that the attorney general told him to communicate over encrypted messaging service Signal.

Cammack said he learned that Paxton had a different official email address when he saw it copied on an email from one of Paxton’s deputies ordering Cammack to stop his investigation.

In 2020, Cammack was five years out of law school and had a modest criminal defense practice in Houston. He testified that Paxton hired him at the recommendation of Paul’s lawyer, whom he said he knew socially. Cammack recalled that as he was being hired Paxton told him he would “need to have some guts” for the investigation Paxton had in mind. He said he was exited to be working for Texas’ top lawyer and impressed after the attorney general took him to watch a news conference. “It was cool,” Cammack said.

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Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the impeachment of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at: https://apnews.com/hub/ken-paxton

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At impeachment, lawyer recounts Texas AG Ken Paxton supervising his investigation into FBI and judge