Gag order issued ahead of Texas AG Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial after ‘inflammatory’ remarks
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A top Texas Republican who will oversee Attorney General Ken Paxton ‘s impeachment trial issued a sweeping gag order Monday that scolded “inflammatory” public comments made by lawyers on both sides ahead of the historic September proceedings.
The order by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the powerful leader of the state Senate, underscored how Paxton’s fight for his political survival over accusations of abuse of office has drawn some of Texas’ brashest and highest-profile legal figures.
The impact was swift: Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, Paxton’s lead attorney, canceled a news conference scheduled for Tuesday after the order was issued. The news conference had been announced in a statement that accused a “kangaroo court” in the Texas House of driving the impeachment.
“The court finds that individuals involved in the trial of impeachment will likely continue to make public prejudicial and inflammatory statements unless this order is issued,” Patrick wrote.
State senators who will serve as Paxton’s jury once his trial begins Sept. 5 were already barred from speaking publicly about the case under rules issued earlier this summer. But Patrick, a former Houston broadcaster and conservative talk radio host who will serve as the trial’s presiding officer, is now reining in attorneys on both sides.
The trial has no shortage of Texas legal star power. On one side is Buzbee, whose past clients include former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and women who accused NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual harassment and assault. On the other side is Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin, who will present the case to impeach Paxton and combined have represented a long roster of celebrities and famous figures.
Paxton has been under FBI investigation for years over accusations by members of his own staff that he used his office to help a donor. He was separately indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, though he has yet to stand trial.
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