Saturday, May 27, 2023

Paxton Faces The Lone Star Law, Con't

The Texas House has overwhelmingly voted to impeach GOP state AG Ken Paxton on all 20 charges brought forth by the legislature committee investigating his years of wrongdoing.
Defying a last-minute appeal by former President Donald Trump, the Texas House voted overwhelmingly Saturday to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton, temporarily removing him from office over allegations of misconduct that included bribery and abuse of office.

The vote to adopt the 20 articles of impeachment was 121-23.

The stunning vote came two days after an investigative committee unveiled the articles — and two days before the close of a biennial legislative session that saw significant right-wing victories, including a ban on transgender health care for minors and new restrictions on public universities’ diversity efforts.

The vote revealed substantial divisions within the Republican Party of Texas — the largest, richest and most powerful state GOP party in the United States. Although the party has won every statewide election for a quarter-century and has controlled both houses of the Legislature since 2003, it has deep underlying fissures, many of them exacerbated by Trump’s rise.

Few attorneys general have been as prominent as Paxton, who made a career of suing the Obama and Biden administrations. One of Trump’s closest allies in Texas, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Paxton unsuccessfully sued to challenge the 2020 presidential election results in four states.

Attention next shifts to the Texas Senate, which will conduct a trial with senators acting as jurors and designated House members presenting their case as impeachment managers.

Permanently removing Paxton from office and barring him from holding future elected office in Texas would require the support of two-thirds of senators.
Impeachment was supported by 60 Republicans, including Speaker Dade Phelan. All votes in opposition came from Republicans.

The move to impeach came less than a week after the House General Investigating Committee revealed that it was investigating Paxton for what members described as a yearslong pattern of misconduct and questionable actions that include bribery, dereliction of duty and obstruction of justice. They presented the case against him Saturday, acknowledging the weight of their actions.

“Today is a very grim and difficult day for this House and for the state of Texas,” Rep. David Spiller, R-Jacksboro, a committee member, told House members.

“We have a duty and an obligation to protect the citizens of Texas from elected officials who abuse their office and their powers for personal gain,” Spiller said. “As a body, we should not be complicit in allowing that behavior.”

Paxton supporters criticized the impeachment proceedings as rushed, secretive and based on hearsay accounts of actions taken by Paxton, who was not given the opportunity to defend himself to the investigating committee. 
That's because Paxton will get his defense at his Senate trial, which presents its own set of problems: Paxton's wife Angela is in fact a Texas state senator. 

The good news is that the law prevailed, despite open and repeated threats by Paxton, GOP US Sen. Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump. Naturally, I expect those threats to be repeated against the Texas senate, which in this case would jury tampering, what Trump does best.

We'll see if Paxton survives this. There's got to be heavy pressure for him to resign, and let's not forget that the reason Paxton was impeached now is that by not doing so, Texas Republicans, who were asked by Paxton for millions in taxpayer dollars to pay off his whistleblowers, would have been culpable in the federal investigation into Paxton's bribery, still ongoing.

Stay tuned.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

As word is coming in that Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith is wrapping up his investigation and that AG Merrick Garland is nearing a decision on charges with the Trump team bracing for impact, the Washington Post is reporting that the Mar-a-Lago classified document shuffle was a song and dance number that was planned, practiced, and executed by members of Trump's staff.

Two of Donald Trump’s employees moved boxes of papers the day before FBI agents and a prosecutor visited the former president’s Florida home to retrieve classified documents in response to a subpoena — timing that investigators have come to view as suspicious and an indication of possible obstruction, according to people familiar with the matter.

Trump and his aides also allegedly carried out a “dress rehearsal” for moving sensitive papers even before his office received the May 2022 subpoena, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive ongoing investigation.

Prosecutors in addition have gathered evidence indicating that Trump at times kept classified documents in his office in a place where they were visible and sometimes showed them to others, these people said.

Taken together, the new details of the classified-documents investigation suggest a greater breadth and specificity to the instances of possible obstruction found by the FBI and Justice Department than has been previously reported. It also broadens the timeline of possible obstruction episodes that investigators are examining — a period stretching from events at Mar-a-Lago before the subpoena to the period after the FBI raid there on Aug. 8.

That timeline may prove crucial as prosecutors seek to determine Trump’s intent in keeping hundreds of classified documents after he left the White House, a key factor in deciding whether to file charges of obstruction of justice or of mishandling national security secrets. The Washington Post has previously reported that the boxes were moved out of the storage area after Trump’s office received a subpoena. But the precise timing of that activity is a significant element in the investigation, the people familiar with the matter said.

Grand jury activity in the case has slowed in recent weeks, and Trump’s attorneys have taken steps — including outlining his potential defense to members of Congress and seeking a meeting with the attorney general — that suggest they believe a charging decision is getting closer. The grand jury working on the investigation apparently has not met since May 5, after months of frenetic activity at the federal courthouse in Washington. That is the panel’s longest hiatus since December, shortly after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special counsel to lead the probe and coinciding with the year-end holidays.
The obstruction of justice charges are coming, but I think a lot more will be unveiled in the months ahead. As it stands, Team Trump is making the same kind of preparations that they did when Alvin Bragg's cards were about to be played.

This month, several legal and political counselors to Trump have bluntly informed him that they expect the Justice Department to charge him in the criminal investigation into his hoarding of highly classified documents following the end of his presidency, two sources familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. The feds have also been probing whether or not Trump tried to obstruct the investigation prior to last year’s FBI raid of the ex-president’s Florida estate.

This, of course, comes on the heels of Trump’s indictment by local prosecutors in Manhattan in April for falsifying business records. Later this summer, officials in Fulton County, Georgia, are expected to decide whether or not to indict Trump on election fraud charges.

Trump’s attorneys and confidants have told Trump that though they view the federal investigation as “bullshit,” they would be surprised at this point if he wasn’t charged — particularly for alleged obstruction of justice — and have urged Trump to prepare for yet another historic fight. “Looks like they’re going for it,” one of the sources says. “People close to the [former] president have discussed with him what we think is going to happen soon, and how he and everyone else needs to be ready for it … it would be crazy not to.”

In at least one of these recent conversations, the former president angrily complained in response to these predictions that if the Department of Justice is going to charge him for keeping classified documents, then “what about Joe Biden?” according to the other person familiar with the matter. (A small number of classified documents have been discovered at a number of locations connected to Biden, including his garage; the Department of Justice has named a second special counsel to look into the matter.)

It is still unclear if the Justice Department will ultimately bring charges against Trump, though there are signs that this particular investigation is nearing its final phase. Some in the broader conservative movement have also braced for the possibility that Trump — currently the front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination — will face indictment across a range of investigations. These potential indictments stem from the Georgia probe into election interference to the Mar-a-Lago documents probe.

“I would just presume indictments in all the jurisdictions,” Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch and a close ally of Trump, said in a brief interview on Wednesday. “The Democrats are so nervous about Trump running, they’ll do anything.”

Trump’s own former attorney general, Bill Barr, also said in a recent interview that the documents case is the one Trump should be “most concerned about.”

“He wouldn’t get in trouble probably just for taking them. … The problem is what did he do after the government asked for them back and subpoenaed them,” Barr told CBS News. “And if there’s any games being played there, he’s going to be very exposed.”
You'll know it's actually coming when Trump screams about his impending arrest and tells his terrorists to go after federal law enforcement officers in order to save him. 

Until then, I expect Smith -- and Merrick Garland -- will keep his own schedule.

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