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Six top officials and employees at the Texas attorney general’s office have taken a leave of absence to help defend suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial this summer.
Those employees are solicitor general Judd Stone, the agency’s top appellate lawyer; assistant solicitors general Joseph N. Mazzara and Kateland Jackson; Chris Hilton, chief of the general litigation division; senior attorney Allison Collins; and executive assistant Jordan Eskew.
The news was first reported by the conservative website The Daily Wire. Jarrod Griffin, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, confirmed the report to The Texas Tribune.
Prior to Tuesday, it was unclear who would serve as Paxton’s lawyers in the impeachment trial before the Texas Senate.
The embattled three-term Republican became Texas’ first statewide office holder to be impeached in more than 100 years on Saturday when the Texas House voted 121-23 to adopt 20 articles of impeachment. The articles, which included allegations of bribery, abuse of office and obstruction of justice, were presented Monday to the Senate.
Most of the impeachment articles were tied to allegations that Paxton used his political office to benefit Austin real estate investor Nate Paul, his friend and political donor.
Paxton and Paul have denied wrongdoing. Paxton, who was temporarily suspended from office pending his trial in the Senate, has decried the impeachment proceedings as a “political sham” and expressed hope that senators will swiftly clear his name.
Permanent removal from office would require the support of two-thirds of the Senate, which includes Paxton’s wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney.
The Senate created a seven-member committee Monday to propose rules for the impeachment process by June 20. Senators also agreed to hold a trial no later than Aug. 28, but no date has been set.
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