Russell “Rusty” Hardin, the lead prosecutor in the impeachment trial of Republican Texas Attorney General (AG) Ken Paxton, admitted Tuesday he messed up when he accidentally declared his team’s case rested.
Mr. Hardin announced before the Texas Senate’s impeachment tribunal that the House Manager — the prosecution — decided to rest their case after examining a witness. However, Hardin rested without a cross examination.
“He just rested without a cross exam. I can recall the witness so I am fine with that. We’ll recall this man. We’ll accept the rest,” Tony Buzbee, the AG’s lead defense lawyer, pointed out.
The witness they were talking about was Blake Brickman, and Mr. Hardin had just concluded examining his testimony, according to the Houston Conservative Forum. (RELATED: Texas House Votes To Impeach AG Ken Paxton)
Here’s the video of House prosecutors accidentally resting their case against Paxton.
— Brandon Waltens (@bwaltens) September 13, 2023
Hardin proceeded to concede, “He is absolutely right. I apologize. I think he is entitled to his day in court.”
A little bit later, Hardin further realized his mistake.
“Now is it [the defense] waving cross or?” Hardin began.
Buzbee explained he would be recalling the witness for their own case should that be necessary.
Hardin then confessed, “Here is the problem. I messed up and shouldn’t have rested until he finished his cross.”
It was, however, too late for Mr. Hardin to take back his announcement. The presiding officer over the Senate trial, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, stated the trial would now proceed with the defense’s witnesses now, according to The Texas Tribune. This consequently meant the prosecution’s case was considered by the Senate as rested.
The Texas House of Representatives voted to impeach Paxton in May over allegations of bribery, corruption, obstruction of justice and others. The allegations are largely related to a real estate developer and Paxton donor who the FBI was investigating.
On the first day of the trial, Paxton pleaded not guilty to all 16 articles of impeachment.