Lawyer says Paxton coordinated probe of officials who investigated Nate Paul

Ken Paxton (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton coordinated through encrypted communications with a lawyer he hired to investigate law enforcement officials probing one of the Republican’s wealthy donors, the lawyer testified at Paxton’s impeachment trial Tuesday.

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.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

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.

That year, Paul alleged wrongdoing by state and federal authorities, including a federal judge, after the FBI searched his home. Several of Paxton’s former deputies have testified for the prosecution in the impeachment trial and said they found Paul’s claims “ludicrous” and not worthy of investigation.

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

The bipartisan group of lawmakers prosecuting Paxton’s impeachment have alleged that in return for Paxton’s help, Paul paid for renovations to his Austin home and employed a woman with whom the attorney general was having an extramarital affair.

- Advertisement -

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. Subpoenas were issued for the cellphone records of state and federal law enforcement officials, including an agent involved in the search of Paul’s home and the assistant to a federal magistrate, Cammack said. Paul’s lawyer joined him when he served other subpoenas on banks. “He was insistent on going,” Cammack said. “I didn’t really think it was appropriate.”

Cammack said Paxton used the encrypted service Proton Mail to email about the investigation and that the attorney general told him to communicate over the 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.

- Advertisement -

“It was cool,” Cammack said.

Bleiberg reported from Dallas.