Dem 51
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Report from Texas

As we noted in yesterday's posting, the impeachment trial of Texas state AG Ken Paxton commenced yesterday. We happen to have a reader who is on the story, namely K.C.W. in Austin, TX, and so we thought we'd pass along their report:

Folks started lining up at 3:00 a.m. outside of the Capitol for tickets to the gallery. Suffering a bout of insomnia, I thought about attending, but knew I'd probably nod off, and I snore like a freight train, and I preferred watching Durango's Sepp Kuss defend the Red Jersey at the Vuelta a España. I chose to watch the proceedings online instead. They started off with pre-trial motions, most of which were to try to dismiss all charges, chip away at individual charges, or exclude evidence (the pre-term exception). All failed, with only 6-8 Republicans voting in favor. Consensus seems to be that they are hard-right Republicans who might see challenges from the right if they didn't vote that way. The final vote won't go that way, but it would be interesting to tally the changes. Then came the pleadings. Paxton's lawyer, Tony Buzbee, went full-on performative, responding to all of the "how do you plead" with responses such as, "everything the clerk has said is false, and AG Paxton pleads not guilty," to the point that opposing counsel, Rusty Hardin, had to object. Sustained. Buzbee doubled down on being a di** with the next charge by responding, "Absolutely not guilty." (One has to wonder how he has enough billable hours to be a top-flight lawyer in Texas, given how many hours he must spend in his tanning bed. Even in sunny Austin, that sort of tan creeps us the f**k out.)

With the preliminaries out of the way, it was time for the opening statements, one hour for each side. The prosecution spent no more than 15 minutes, banking the rest for witnesses (24 hours). The defense spent all but two minutes trying to enter into the record "evidence," despite the fact that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R), presiding officer and supposedly in the bag for Paxton, admonished jurors that nothing said in opening statements should be considered as such. My own take on this is that prosecution has lots to present, and defense is clutching at straws (or other things). The day ended with testimony by Jeff Mateer, who self-described himself as an 11 on a 1-10 scale of conservativism. He was nominated by Donald Trump to be a district court judge, and even Republicans rejected him for being too much of a nutter. Hardin spent lots of time getting Mateer to describe in detail just how nutty and out-of-sync he is with America, before going for the goal: Even this guy thinks Paxton stepped over the line.

I'll add that state senator Angela Paxton, Ken Paxton's wife, whom he cheated on, and is required to attend the proceedings by the state constitution, showed up in a red dress. I'll suggest that this is not to show support for Republicans, but rather a reference to the Wheel of Time's Red Aja, the notoriously misandrist faction, and whose TV series just launched its second season. She's out for blood.

Thanks, K.C.W.! (Z)

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