Paxton Defense: ‘Bush Era in Texas Ends Today’

Ken Paxton | Image by Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

During the closing arguments of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial, defense attorney Tony Buzbee inveighed against the political influence of the Bush family.

Buzbee told the senators, “You heard in the media that the evidence was 10 times worse than the public even knows. … What a farce that was. What we’ve seen is a bunch of suppositions, mights, maybes, and could-have-beens. So what is this case about? It’s about nothing.”

“They didn’t prove anything other than they don’t like Ken Paxton,” he claimed. “I would suggest to you that this trial has displayed for the country a partisan fight within the Republican Party.”

“It’s a battle for power,” Buzbee asserted, blaming House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) and politicos associated with the Bush family.

“[Paxton] beat the latest in line for the Bushes,” the attorney noted, referencing the strong primary victory Paxton enjoyed over former Land Commissioner George P. Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush, in the 2022 race for attorney general.

As reported by The Dallas Express, throughout the trial, the defense suggested that the alleged political apparatus of the Bush family, what Buzbee called “the Bush regime,” had been leveraged against Paxton in order to weaponize the whistleblowers against a political rival.

Paxton’s attorneys said that George P. Bush had renewed his decade-long defunct law license the day after the whistleblowers went to the FBI in late 2020 without any documentary evidence to accuse Paxton of criminal activity. A few months later, George P. Bush announced he would challenge Paxton.

Days before the FBI meeting, the whistleblowers retained the services of a Bush-affiliated lawyer named Johnny Sutton. Sutton represented them for nearly three years without charging a dime or even discussing fees with them, as revealed on cross-examination.

“Have you ever met a lawyer who works for free for three years, who’s a former U.S. attorney, who’s doing legitimate work?” Buzbee asked.

While the whistleblowers have not paid Sutton, the Texas General Land Office, under the direction of then-Land Commissioner George P. Bush, paid Sutton’s firm nearly $180,000 in taxpayer funds over the course of 2022, as covered by The Dallas Express.

Sutton worked for former President George W. Bush while the latter was still Texas governor. He then led the Department of Justice transition team when the latter was elected president. Bush subsequently appointed Sutton as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas.

Despite the whistleblower accusations, George P. Bush still lost to Paxton. Buzbee suggested that since they “couldn’t beat him in a fair fight,” they turned to political machinations.

“Let it be known, let it be clear now, the Bush era in Texas ends today!” Buzbee declared in closing. “We thought it had ended in the primary when Ken Paxton beat George P. Bush 68 to 32.”

“They can go back to Maine,” he added. “This is Texas.”

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