Nearly one week into the impeachment trial of suspended Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, his wife, Angela Paxton, listened as a former staffer testified to Mr Paxton’s alleged affair and the impact it had on the office.
Sitting at her desk in the same chamber where the trial is being held, Ms Paxton, a Texas state senator, listened as a former staffer for Mr Paxton spoke at length about Mr Paxton’s alleged affair on Monday.
“I told General Paxton quite bluntly it wasn’t my business who he was sleeping with, but when things bleed over into the office and into the state work, that it becomes my business,” Katherine “Missy” Minter Cary, the former chief of staff for Mr Paxton’s office, said.
Ms Cary said that Mr Paxton’s affair impacted staffers who had to work long hours and made people feel uncomfortable.
The alleged affair between Mr Paxton and Laura Olsen is part of the 20 articles of impeachment that accuse Mr Paxton of abusing his power and taking bribes, among other things.
Ms Cary said she tried to convey the ethical and political implications of Mr Paxton’s affair to him and urged him to tell his wife – she noted that she did not know who Mr Paxton was having the affair with at first.
Eventually, Mr Paxton admitted to the affair and told his wife, according to Ms Cary.
As Ms Paxton sat in on the trial, Ms Cary described a particularly “sad” moment in 2018 when staffers sat down with Mr and Ms Paxton to discuss the alleged affair.
Ms Cary said her “heart broke for” Ms Paxton who was crying during the meeting. She said she later learned that Mr Paxton did not end the affair at that time and it went on into 2019.
Ms Paxton, who is barred from voting in the trial, is attending in accordance with the Texas state Constitution which requires all members to attend for an impeachment.
Mr Paxton, however, does not have to attend and has not been in the chambers for most of the trial.
The testimony from Ms Cary comes just days after another former staffer, Jeff Mateer, hinted at Mr Paxton’s affair while on the witness stand. Mr Mateer claimed Mr Paxton’s alleged ongoing affair was closely tied to his dealing with local real estate developer Nate Paul – who employed Ms Olsen.
During cross-examination, Mr Paxton’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee asked a hypothetical question about Mr Paxton’s alleged affair intended to paint it more innocently.
“Imagine if we impeached everyone here in Austin that had had an affair — we’d be impeaching for the next 100 years," Mr Buzbee said
"Just because someone had an affair doesn’t mean that they’re a quote criminal, does it? That would be incredibly hypocritical, would it not, if somebody said this guy is a criminal because he had a marital indiscretion?”