AUSTIN — One of the whistleblowers who sued Attorney General Ken Paxton over alleged retaliation took the stand on Thursday afternoon, the third day of the suspended AG’s impeachment trial.

Ryan Vassar, a former deputy attorney general, testified to his recollection of the events surrounding an open records request that Nate Paul had filed after law enforcement raided his companies.

Paul, a central figure in the impeachment story, is an Austin-based businessman and one-time Paxton donor who allegedly sought preferential treatment from Paxton.

Vassar had been an employee at the Office of the Attorney General under Ken Paxton for several years before he reported the attorney general’s allegedly improper conduct to the FBI. Later, he sued Paxton on the grounds that he was wrongfully terminated for his role as a whistleblower.

At one point, Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for the House trial managers, asked Vassar about being characterized as a “rogue” employee in the aftermath of the disagreement, which brought the witness to tears.

“I worked for the state for eight years as a public servant, as one who values the commitment to public service,” Vassar claimed. “To set an example for my kids, the people that I worked with, the people that I managed.

“It’s contrary — the statement of being rogue — is contrary to the years that I’ve dedicated my life to the state,” he wept. One of Paxton’s attorneys then asked to approach the witness and provided him a tissue.

When his testimony continued, Vassar focused on Paxton issuing a ruling that offered no opinion on the open records request in question, something Vassar said he had never seen done before.

Part of the prosecution’s theory is that Paxton made copies of the requested information and sent it to Nate Paul in an envelope. House attorney Hardin suggested that these alleged events were “at the heart” of some of the key impeachment articles.

Article 3 claimed, “Paxton directed employees of his office to act contrary to the law by refusing to render a proper decision relating to a public information request for records held by the Department of Public Safety.”

Similarly, Article 4 alleged, “Paxton improperly obtained access to information held by his office that had not been publicly disclosed for the purpose of providing the information to the benefit of Nate Paul.”

Vassar alleged that Paxton had asked for a copy of the files that Paul had officially requested — which pertained to law enforcement raids conducted on his properties — in a way that the former deputy attorney general believed to be improper. Paxton apparently had these documents for several days before returning them to Vassar.

Ryan Bangert, another former OAG employee, had testified earlier that Paul ultimately attempted to sue in order to acquire the information after the opinion had failed to order its disclosure.

The first three days of the impeachment trial have been full of charged exchanges as the parties battle over Paxton’s political future in Texas. For his part, Paxton has pleaded not guilty to all articles of impeachment, maintaining his innocence, as reported by The Dallas Express.