The whistleblower who made this shocking admission was Ryan Vassar, a former deputy attorney general for legal counsel and one of the top Paxton aides who reported him to the FBI in 2020 based on suspicions that he had been abusing his power to help Austin real estate investor and campaign donor Nate Paul.
During a cross examination, Paxton attorney Mitch Little got Vassar to admit that they brought the allegations against the AG without providing any physical evidence.
He asked him on the witness stand: “I want to get this straight: You went to the FBI on Sept. 30 with your compatriots and reported the elected attorney general of this state for a crime without any evidence, yes?”
Vassar replied: “That’s right. We took no evidence.”
Little then asked Vassar if they went back to collect evidence that could corroborate their claims following the initial meeting with the FBI. He replied: “I don’t recall that we collected any evidence”, adding that the whistleblowers went to report their “good faith belief” that criminal activity took place.
This prompted a flurry of comments from Paxton supporters, such as former Texas politician Jonathan Stickland, who said on the War Room podcast: “Their entire case is falling apart. We have witnesses come up and say, ‘Yeah, I went to the FBI with absolutely no evidence.’”
Vassar’s comments were so potentially damning that a House lawyer, Rusty Hardin, felt the need to coach him through a clarification in which he attempted to walk back some of his comments the next day.
Vassar said that he had intended to say that the whistleblowers did not bring “documentary evidence" to the FBI.
Attempting to do some damage control, Hardin asked leading questions such as: “Did you take your body? Did you take your voice? Did you take your brain? Did you take your experience? Did you take your knowledge of the last nine months?” and then insisted that this is evidence.
He then asked Vassar to share his “opinion now after the primer we just did.”
However, Vassar continued to stand firm on the fact that they did not provide documentary evidence, saying: “My opinion was that our experiences were evidence, but we did not take our own investigation to provide documentary evidence of what we had come to learn.”
Vassar also revealed in his testimony that the AG’s office maintained a blacklist of reporters who were “handled differently than other reporters.”
In May, Texas’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives impeached Paxton, approving more than a dozen articles of impeachment containing allegations such as abuse of public trust and bribery. He is now facing a trial in the state senate that will determine if he should be removed and barred from office.
On the first day of the trial, Paxton pleaded not guilty to all of the impeachment articles. His defense attorneys have said that they will present evidence demonstrating that the accusations are based on assumptions rather than facts.
Paxton's trial is expected to last several weeks and will focus largely on his relationship with Paul. It is also expected to include details of an extramarital affair Paxton had with an employee of Paul. Paxton’s wife, state senator Angela Paxton, has been attending the trial but will not be able to vote on whether he should be removed from office.
Sources for this article include: