AUSTIN, Texas — Testimony in the impeachment trial of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton focused on the alleged mistress who was named by a witness for the first time. Paxton himself was again a no-show Monday, but his wife, State Sen. Angela Paxton, was there.
The alleged affair is referenced in one of the articles of impeachment which accuses Paxton of bribery.
Katherine “Missy” Cary, the former chief of staff in the attorney general’s office, testified about how she first learned about her boss's affair with a woman named Laura Olson. That alleged affair is a key part of the impeachment allegations against Paxton.
Who is Laura Olson?
Cary said she was at an Austin restaurant in 2018 when she overheard a woman next to her talking about Paxton in a “very personal” way. She took a picture and told Paxton, who claimed the woman was his real estate agent, Cary testified.
Cary testified that members of Paxton's security detail and travel aides told her that he was having an affair with Olson.
She learned his behavior was causing morale problems in the office and staff members told her that they were "concerned about the general's behavior," Cary said. She said they also complained about the hours they were working and the places they had to go.
Cary added that Angela Paxton was calling the office to try to track down her husband and staffers were feeling “uncomfortable answering those questions.”
Cary said she eventually confronted Paxton who confirmed he was having an affair. Cary said they discussed the political, ethical and legal risks of the affair and she suggested he should tell his wife.
Later that year, Paxton called a meeting of his top staffers where he reportedly confessed the affair with his tearful wife by his side. "My heart broke for her," Cary said.
She testified that she learned the affair was continuing in 2019 and Paxton became "frantically upset" when she brought it up and he raised his voice and was "red in the face."
"He came in and said that he was frustrated and that I didn't understand that he still loved Mrs. Olson," she said.
On cross-examination, Paxton lawyer Tony Buzbee downplayed the alleged affair's relevance to the case.
"Imagine if we impeached everybody here in Austin that had had an affair," Buzbee said. "We’d be impeaching for the next 100 years, wouldn’t we?"
WATCH: Former chief of staff says Paxton became angry when she confronted him about affair
Connecting the dots
Last week, Paxton's former top assistant Jeff Mateer testified that Olson moved to Austin in 2020 to work for a real estate developer and friend of Paxton named Nate Paul.
Mateer said the alleged affair was the missing piece that explained why Paxton repeatedly pressured staff members to help Paul who was being investigated by the FBI and was named in multiple lawsuits.
“Because it answered one of the questions that I kept struggling with: Why would Gen. Paxton jeopardize all this great work that we have been doing in the office of attorney general? Why would he be engaged in these activities on behalf of one person?” Mateer replied. “It seemed to me that he was under undue influence -- at the time I wondered if he was being blackmailed because it was so unlike what I’d experienced with him for four years.”
After Mateer and other top deputies went to the FBI with their concerns, some resigned and others were fired.
“By that time, I concluded that Mr. Paxton was engaged in conduct that was immoral, unethical and I believed it was illegal," he explained.
Not long after the Texas House voted to impeach Paxton, Paul was indicted on eight federal charges related to loans he received.