AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Whistleblower Ryan Vassar resumed testimony in Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial Friday morning, recounting the events surrounding his decision to report Paxton to the FBI for alleged ethical and legal violations.
Friday morning began with tense cross-examination from Paxton’s defense team.
Thursday afternoon, Vassar teared up at Paxton’s suggestion that he and the whistleblowers were “rogue employees.” That assertion was “contrary to the years that I dedicated my life to the state,” he said. Defense attorneys on Friday appeared to attempt to discredit those solemn emotions, referencing text messages Vassar sent in a private group chat of whistleblowers.
Paxton defense attorney J. Mitchell Little displayed numerous text messages showing Vassar and other former employees demeaning other colleagues, insulting their intelligence and making light of their difficult experience following the FBI complaint.
One text from Vassar included an image of “Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring and Activity Book” — a satirical 2009 book that Vassar used as an “oblique reference” to Paxton’s criticism of the whistleblowers. The lighthearted texts from 2020 contrasted with Vassar’s tears at the term “rogue” — “gallows humor,” Little described it.
“It was a joke. I believe earlier your testimony was that being called a ‘rogue employee’ was very upsetting to you. Right?,” Little asked Vassar. “No one was ever supposed to see it. And certainly not the people of Texas who are watching this impeachment proceeding, right? No one was ever supposed to see this.”
“Well, it was a conversation among friends. But I wouldn’t say that any of us are concerned that it’s being discussed here today,” Vassar responded.
“Nate Paul was a criminal.”
After lunch, prosecutors began examining David Maxwell, the former Director of Law Enforcement in the Attorney General’s Office under Paxton.
Maxwell says he warned Paxton his conduct in Nate Paul’s legal matters was improper.
“I told him that Nate Paul was a criminal. He was running a Ponzi scheme… and if he didn’t get away from what he was doing, he was going to get himself indicted,” Maxwell said he told Paxton.
The defense has long argued that whistleblowers did not alert Paxton before they reported him to the FBI.
Maxwell said he was reluctant to take a meeting with Paul in the summer of 2020, but Paxton was putting pressure on top deputies to meet with him.