With the Senate trial approaching in the impeachment case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has placed a gag order on all parties involved in the case.
The order, released on Monday afternoon, states that “out-of court statements relating to the matters of this impeachment proceeding pose a serious and imminent threat to Warren Kenneth Paxton, Jr.’s, right to a fair trial of impeachment, the ability of the members of the court to remain fair and impartial, and to the fair administration of justice.”
The order cites a recent newspaper editorial by State Rep. Andrew Murr (R–Junction), who is on the House Board of Managers, in which he used phrases such as “harrowing findings of corruption,” “shocking pattern of abuse and criminality,” and “one overwhelming conclusion” when discussing the impeachment.
The order also cites a press conference by attorneys Dick DeGuerin and Rusty Hardin, prosecutors for the House, in which they called Paxton a “crook” and stated that “the allegations will blow your mind.”
Additionally, the order refers to comments by Paxton’s defense team—attorneys Tony Buzbee and Dan Cogdell—in which they referred to the impeachment as an “evil, illegal, and unprecedented weaponization of state power” and called the articles of impeachment “bologna.”
The order applies to all members of the House of Representatives, parties to the impeachment trial, witnesses, as well as their attorneys and staff. Senators had previously been placed under a gag order last month.
Those under the gag order are prohibited from revealing the following information:
- statements concerning the expected testimony of any party or witness, or the character, reputation or credibility of any party, witness, or attorney involved in the trial of impeachment or members of their office;
- statements concerning the existence or contents of any statement given by a party, or the refusal or failure of any person related to this trial of impeachment to make a statement;
- statements concerning the nature of any evidence which may be presented;
- the identity or nature of any physical evidence expected to be presented;
- any opinion as to whether the articles of impeachment should be dismissed or sustained against Warren Kenneth Paxton, Jr.;
- subpoenas issued by the court or information received pursuant to the Discovery Order, a subpoena, or other order of the court; or
- any information the person knows or reasonably should know is likely to be inadmissible as evidence at the trial of impeachment and would, if disclosed, create a substantial risk of prejudicing an impartial trial or the ability to maintain a fair and impartial court.
Meanwhile, Buzbee was slated to hold a press conference on Tuesday concerning allegations that the House impeachment team is obstructing their discovery efforts ahead of the trial by requiring that Paxton not disclose to the public any documents obtained by his defense. That press conference has since been canceled.
The trial is scheduled to begin on September 5 in the Texas Senate to determine whether Paxton will be removed from office.