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Paxton attorney: House won’t disclose information necessary for trial

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(The Center Square) – Republican House Managers chosen by House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, aren’t complying with a discovery order issued by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attorneys claim.

The July 12 order requires the parties to “confer and accomplish the following as soon as practicable,” including requiring the House Managers to provide documentation to Paxton’s attorneys in preparation for the impeachment trial. The order was issued in response to a complaint Paxton’s attorneys filed on July 7.

The order requires House Managers to provide all reports, documents, business records, government records, papers, recorded witness statements, among others in possession of House officials relevant to any of the articles of impeachment. House Managers must also make available for inspection by Paxton’s attorneys all physical objects/evidence, all documents and photographs and all business records or government records expected to be introduced at trial. They are also ordered to disclose all known convictions of witnesses they expect to call, all “exculpatory, impeachment, or mitigating evidence, and the existence and substance of any payment, promise, possible immunity, lenience or preferential treatment made to any prospective witness listed,” according to the order.

Failure to comply with the order “may result in the exclusion of the evidence at issue and/or contempt of court,” it states.

The Senate also created a new website page that includes the order, motions and some documents related to impeachment proceedings. Already-published documents include some communication transmitted among counsel, a House General Investigating Committee denial to a public information request made by Paxton’s attorneys, and a motion filed by Paxton’s attorneys to preclude Paxton from being compelled to testify.

In response to the July 12 order, the House Managers provided six boxes of documents, which Paxton’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, argues is a ruse.

Buzbee issued a statement Monday saying in part that “House politicians refuse to follow Dan Patrick’s order unless Attorney General Paxton agrees to not make any of the documents provided by the House available to the public prior to the Senate trial. There is no reason to hide these documents or the truth from the public. This proceeding is too important to allow the House managers to try to hide the fact they have no incriminating evidence at all.

“While House managers, of course, tried to appear compliant with the Lt. Governor’s order by providing a mere six boxes of inconsequential documents which contained nothing new and absolutely no evidence of wrongdoing, [House Speaker Dade] Phelan’s kangaroo court is now defying the Lt. Governor’s order for production by demanding that Attorney General Paxton agree to keep everything provided secret from the people of Texas. This ridiculous demand is an attempt by the House to delay the Senate trial. Phelan’s kangaroo court is mocking the Senate and demonstrating contempt for the Lt. Governor.”

Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, who chairs the GIC and is leading the House Managers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. All previous requests for comment to Murr and GIC members have gone unanswered.

“This demand for secrecy is unacceptable but not surprising from members of the very kangaroo court that impeached Ken Paxton, a body that was guided by politics instead of the law,” Buzbee said. “It is clear that the House realizes there is no evidence to support impeachment, and the House doesn’t want the people of Texas to learn this fact.”

Buzbee also asked Patrick “to force Phelan and the liberal House behind this sham impeachment to immediately comply with his order to disclose documents. The people of Texas deserve transparency and the liberal politicians in the Texas House who are siding with Joe Biden should not be allowed to hide the fact that it was a kangaroo court behind this impeachment with no evidence. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

In response, Patrick issued a statement, saying, “I have received numerous questions on the upcoming impeachment trial. On June 21, the Senate passed rules of impeachment 25-3. As presiding officer in the impeachment trial, all 31 Senators and I are subject to communication rules which prohibit discussing the merits of the trial.

“In order to keep the public informed of dates and orders I issue, the Senate has established a website that the public can check daily to stay updated on the latest filings.”

Patrick also said he issued a gag order on Monday, referred to the July 12 discovery order, and said the new website will continue to be updated as orders are issued and as parties file motions.

All pretrial motions are due Aug. 5; answers to pre-trial motions are due Aug. 15. The trial begins Sept. 5.

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