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A federal grand jury has convened in San Antonio and called witnesses close to suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
The identities of the witnesses and the focus of the inquiry remain unclear. Dan Cogdell, one of Paxton’s lawyers, said at an unrelated court hearing in Houston last week that a federal probe into the attorney general, who faces an impeachment trial next month and separate felony securities fraud charges, was ongoing.
Federal investigators began their investigation in October 2020 after several top deputies to Paxton went to the FBI and alleged the attorney general had committed crimes, including bribery, in the course of his friendship with Austin real estate developer Nate Paul.
Prosecutors based at the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., took over the case in February. That office typically handles high-profile investigations of public corruption.
Paul was indicted on federal charges in June in a case unrelated to Paxton. Prosecutors have accused Paul of altering financial records to fraudulently obtain loans for his real estate business, World Class Capital Group. His trial is scheduled for next year.
Whether Paul is cooperating with investigators in the Paxton case is unclear. David Gerger, one of his criminal defense attorneys, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Paxton in May was impeached by the Texas House on 20 counts alleging he had abused his power, some related to his relationship with Paul. House investigators said Paxton inappropriately hired a special prosecutor to investigate claims made by Paul, intervened to Paul’s benefit in a legal case involving a charity, issued an order that helped Paul delay foreclosure sales of several of his properties and helped Paul obtain confidential law enforcement records related to the federal investigation into him.
Paxton’s trial in the Senate is scheduled to begin Sept. 5. His legal team has asked for all of the articles to be dismissed. While his trial is pending, he is suspended without pay.
The origins of the Paxton-Paul relationship are largely unknown. Paul donated $25,000 to Paxton’s campaign in 2018 and, according to House investigators, later employed on Paxton’s recommendation a woman with whom the attorney general was having an extramarital affair.
Paxton’s securities fraud case, which dates back to 2015, has repeatedly been rescheduled. Most recently, the judge last week agreed to postpone the case until after the impeachment trial concludes.
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