Whenever a sex scandal consumes the political world, there’s always a question about how much information related to the affair will be available for public perusal. Typically, observers are forced to make do with grainy photos of the mistress. In the case of attorney general Ken Paxton, however, this was to be the day we finally got more. The first witness called today in Paxton’s impeachment trial was set to be a former Texas Senate staffer and employee of Austin developer Nate Paul named Laura Olson, who had an affair with Paxton. 

But, much like many romances between politicians and their mistresses, it just wasn’t meant to be. When she was called to the stand this morning, Olson hadn’t been given sufficient notice—24 hours—to appear, so her testimony was delayed until mid-afternoon. Then, it was delayed again: for reasons not made clear, she was “deemed unavailable to testify” by both sides. For now, we’ll have to make do with grainy photos after all!

Thankfully, Olson wasn’t the only—current? former?—close personal friend of the embattled AG on the witness list. One person both sides apparently did feel was up for testifying was Andrew James Wicker, who took the stand to talk about impeachment Article 10, which alleges that Paul paid to renovate the Paxton’s Austin residence in turn for legal help. Senator Angela Paxton once quipped that Wicker was like the couple’s “second son.” Defense attorney Tony Buzbee had a different name, referring to him, perhaps less than affectionately, as “young Drew Wicker” or simply “Drew.”

Wicker might be described by political onlookers as yet another ambitious—but naive—young Republican who got caught up in Paxton’s mishaps (See: Brandon Cammack, Ryan Bangert, and Ryan Vassar). But Wicker arguably had a closer relationship to the AG than any of the whistleblowers. He testified that Angela was “kind and understanding in a way that a mother would be.” His formal title was executive aide to the attorney general, but he also moonlighted as Paxton’s chauffeur (sometimes driving him to and from the Omni hotel while his home was being renovated), mentee (the two bonded over football and talking life and politics), and bodyman (the two could spend eight to ten hours a day together, even on weekends). 

Their relationship was less intimate than that of Paxton and Olson, of course, but it was clear that Paxton tried to take Wicker under his tutelage. That’s until Wicker started feeling uneasy about their relationship. Back in 2020, Wicker said, he “felt as though there might be an inappropriate relationship” between Paxton and Paul. He recalled that Paul and Paxton were meeting semi-regularly, apparently to discuss Paul’s various legal problems. Then he overheard a contractor say multiple times that he would “check with Nate” on the costs related to certain Paxton kitchen repairs, namely renovations to the couple’s cabinetry and countertops. 

So, Wicker testified, upon hearing Paul’s name in connection to the renovations, he did what any scared and upstanding 20-something-year-old might do and took his concerns straight to his mentor. 

Paxton has denied any wrongdoing and said in 2020, when Wicker approached him about his concerns, that he was paying for the renovations himself. Under cross-examination, Buzbee got Wicker to admit that he wasn’t accusing Paxton of any misdeed and had no direct knowledge that Paul did anything for Paxton other than “buy a lunch.” And after Buzbee showed Wicker images that purportedly show that the Paxtons’ countertops and cabinets haven’t been altered and asked whether they “put to bed” Wicker’s concerns, the former aide said yes. Buzbee also noted that Paxton’s insurer shouldered some of the cost.

Wicker also testified that things only got weirder with Paxton around the time eight of his former aides went to federal law enforcement in the fall of 2020. First, Wicker said he was offered a promotion by Paxton, which he ultimately turned down. 

Second, Wicker said he was also approached by the FBI. Paxton’s newest henchman, Brent Webster, however, who took over after whistleblower Jeff Mateer resigned, encouraged the young employee to not respond because he “ran the risk of incriminating [himself].”

Third, Wicker later resigned, but that wasn’t the end of his exchanges with Paxton. Instead, he testified that, in the year after leaving the office of attorney general, he continued to receive a monthly stipend from the Paxton campaign team. Wicker admitted on the stand that the direct deposits might’ve been a mistake, but noted that when he told the AG about them, Paxton told him to keep the money.

Feeling uneasy and seemingly betting that keeping the money might come back to bite later, Wicker donated it back to the campaign because, in his telling, “I didn’t do the work.” In fact, it seems like Wicker was making assurance that a future version of him—the one we saw on the stand today—wouldn’t have to answer for spending the money on personal expenses. “I didn’t want it to appear as though I might have any conflict of interest if anything like this ever came about,” he said, demonstrating foresight not all in the office, including Paxton, apparently, had. 

Here are some other highlights: 

  • In a somewhat dramatic turn of events, it looked like we might be headed for an early vote to dismiss the articles of impeachment against Paxton, after lawyer for the prosecution Rusty Hardin concluded questioning of Blake Brickman, one of the eight whistleblowers who reported Paxton to federal law enforcement. Hardin, a renowned attorney who has defended criminally accused athletes including Roger Clemens and Scottie Pippen, didn’t say he “passed the witness,” as is customary, but rather that “the house of managers rest.” Buzbee pounced on what Hardin later admitted was a “screwup.” He and the attorney general’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss all the articles citing “insufficient evidence” on a straight majority vote. Senators left the chamber to deliberate, but the motion was later withdrawn.
  • There’s a connection between the trial and Breaking Bad because . . .of course there is. Ray Chester, an attorney for the Mitte Foundation at the center of the fifth impeachment article, and the House’s first witness of the day, said that the current head of the Mitte Foundation, RJ Mitte, is the actor who played Walter White Jr. on the show.
  • The last four digits of Paxton’s personal cell are 8128. His work phone? 0220. Beyond that, Wicker testified that the AG had two extra phones: a red iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy Fold. 
  • The House impeachment managers proposed a rule change: to combine the sixteen removal and disqualification votes at the end of the trial into one. Under current rules, proposals like these require 24-hours notice, so senators will likely vote on this measure tomorrow.
  • Back to Brickman, who served as deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives. Brickman testified that he and Paxton were once close—the AG texted him two weeks before his first day saying Brickman would be a “tremendous asset” to their team. Brickman was also the aide who advised Paxton to get involved in the high-profile Shelley Luther case after the hair dresser was arrested for violating Governor Greg Abbott’s stay-at-home order at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s safe to say, though, that they’re probably no longer friendly. “I witnessed Attorney General Ken Paxton do brazen things on behalf of Nate Paul,” Brickman testified. “He abused the entire office of the Attorney General of Texas to benefit Nate Paul, and it got worse and worse and worse.”