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Ken Paxton impeachment trial: Day 4 takeaways

Ken Paxton impeachment trial: Day 4 takeaways
Ken Paxton impeachment trial: Day 4 takeaways 01:55

AUSTIN ( — Week one of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's impeachment trial has wrapped up. 

During the fourth day of testimony, senators heard from two witnesses, both whistleblowers. Here's a look at what the key takeaways were from their testimony:

Vassar's group messages read aloud

Cross-examination of whistleblower and former Deputy Attorney General Ryan Vassar continued Friday morning.

On Thursday, Vassar notably became emotional when discussing being called a "rogue employee" by the attorney general.

"It's contrary to the years I dedicated my life to the state," he said.

During cross-examination Friday, Mitch Little brought up that moment, and seemingly tried to show another side to Vassar. 

While questioning Vassar about a group thread between the whistleblowers, Little detailed messages in which Vassar was making jokes about the inexperience of new attorneys hired at the attorney general's office. 

In one message, he sent a link to a coloring book, saying those new lawyers might need "activities to keep them

Little said the coloring book in question was "Going Rouge: The Sarah Palin Rogue Coloring & Activity Book." When asked if this was a reference to being called a rogue employee by Paxton, Vassar confirmed it was.

Was Nate Paul a drain on resources for the attorney general's office?

During testimony Thursday, witness Ryan Bangert testified that in 2020, when the attorney general's office was dealing with big issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and a multi-state Google lawsuit, Paxton directed the office to help Paul on several occasions.

On Friday morning, Little pushed back against the whistleblowers, saying they were concerned about resources being used on issues involving Paul.

"Did Nate Paul have such a stranglehold on the office that other things weren't getting done?" he asked Vassar.

He instructed Vassar to answer yes or no, to which the witness replied, "I don't think I can answer yes or no to that question."

Vassar clarifies evidence comments

Another notable moment in Thursday's testimony came when Vassar testified that he had no evidence of wrongdoing when he went to the FBI. Friday, he tried to clarify those remarks, saying what he meant was he had no physical evidence.

But he did say he believes his experience was his evidence. "We were witnesses. I believe we were witnesses to criminal activity that had occurred by General Paxton."

Another witness takes the stand

After Vassar was excused Friday, another witness took the stand.

David Maxwell is another whistleblower. He previously served as director of law enforcement for the attorney general's office and is a former Texas Ranger.

During his testimony, Maxwell explained that he was asked to meet with Paul, who wanted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies investigated in relation to search warrants that had been executed on his business and home.

Over the course of three meetings, Maxwell said Paul and his attorney laid out what he considered to be conspiracy theories about what happened the night the search warrant was executed. 

Maxwell called Paul's claims "ludicrous."

During the third meeting, Maxwell said Paxton grew angry when he told him the office would not be conducting an investigation on behalf of Paul. He said at one point during that meeting, Paxton threatened to fire him.

"I told him that all you're doing is using the power and prestige of this office for your own purpose and I'm not going to allow that," Maxwell said.

Earlier in his testimony, Maxwell explained there is a high threshold for investigating public officials to prevent the power of the attorney general's office from being used for strictly political matters.

Later, during cross-examination, Paxton's defense lawyer Dan Cogdell questioned Maxwell about the meetings.

Cogdell questioned Maxwell's words during the meetings and argued that it did not appear he believed a crime was being committed based on what Maxwell said at the time.

According to transcripts Cogdell read, Maxwell told Paul, "We're going to look every which way into this."

Maxwell said he was referring to Paul's claims that the digital search warrants had been altered when law enforcement didn't initially find what they were looking for.

He said if those warrants had been changed, that would be a violation of both state and federal law.

The trial is expected to begin again at 9 a.m. Monday. Watch it live on CBS News Texas' YouTube channel here.  

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