Two prominent Houston trial lawyers representing Attorney General Ken Paxton in his upcoming impeachment trial before the Texas Senate on Wednesday dismissed the charges against their client as “baloney,” “foolishness,” “silliness” and “tomfoolery.”
Tony Buzbee and Dan Cogdell expressed confidence that their client will be acquitted of all charges brought against him by the Texas House of Representatives. Buzbee also made it clear that he expects the impeachment proceedings to take months, and possibly many of them, to conclude.
The Texas House on May 27 approved 20 articles of impeachment accusing the beleaguered Republican attorney general of a “longstanding pattern of abuse of office and public trust, disregard and dereliction of duty, and obstruction of justice and abuse of judicial process.” A trial before the Texas Senate will begin no later than Aug. 28.
But Buzbee, speaking Wednesday at the Austin headquarters of the Republican Party of Texas, said he and Cogdell intend to present a full-throated defense of Paxton, calling dozens of witnesses and demanding access to thousands of documents that, he said, would prove Paxton’s innocence.
“We are girded up for a fight,” Buzbee told reporters. “Make sure you understand what I’m saying here.”
He called the House’s case against Paxton a “sham” and said, “If it takes us a year to show that, then it takes a year to do it.”
Paxton, a Collin County Republican who has served as attorney general since 2015, has denied any wrongdoing and said his impeachment was politically motivated.
Cogdell said Wednesday that one would have to be a dope to believe otherwise.
“To say this case is not about politics,” he said, “has the credibility, the believability and the sincerity of the fellow that’s trying to convince his wife that he goes to the strip joint for the food. ‘It’s not about the naked women, sweetheart. It’s about the food.’ Nonsense.”
Buzbee and Cogdell noted that Paxton was not allowed to present a defense before the House investigative committee that recommended his impeachment; that there was no sworn testimony presented to the committee and, thus, no opportunity for them to cross-examine Paxton’s accusers; and that there was no public hearing before the committee’s vote in favor of impeaching the attorney general.
“I don’t want to say it was a sham of a mockery of a proceeding before the House,” Cogdell said, “but it was a sham and a mockery of the proceeding before the House.”
Both men seemed to bristle at the fanfare with which the House last week announced the appointment of two of the state’s best-known trial attorneys, Rusty Hardin and Dick DeGuerin, to lead the prosecution of Paxton at his Senate trial.
Hardin and DeGuerin, Cogdell said, were introduced at a Capitol press conference “like they were the homecoming king and queen” in high school.
He said he’s a close friend of Hardin’s. “I respect him greatly, but that doesn’t mean he’s right.”
He added, “Mr. DeGuerin’s a great lawyer. He’s a legendary lawyer. He’s an icon. Just ask him, and he will tell you.”
But, he said, Paxton ”is innocent of these accusations. Let’s not let that get lost in the weeds.”
Buzbee said the House “hired two of the known great lawyers of Texas. These lawyers made their bones by successfully representing some of the most notorious and famous alleged wrongdoers in Texas.” But, he added, “This is not about the lawyers. This about the rule of law. I’m not going to let these legal legends off the hooks. This is a sham impeachment.”
Buzbee, a former Houston mayoral candidate well known for his headline-grabbing actions in and out of the courtroom, has successfully represented, among others, former Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, who was accused of abusing his office by threatening to veto certain funding for the Travis County district attorney’s office unless the DA, a Democrat, resigned after a drunk-driving charge. (Perry appointed Buzbee to the Texas A&M University System’s board of regents in 2013.)
He also represented 20 women who claimed they were sexually assaulted by former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson — who was represented by Hardin.
Cogdell joked at Wednesday’s news conference: “It’s refreshing to know that I’m probably the least recognized lawyer involved in this case. So I’ve got that going for me.”