AUSTIN, Texas — Perhaps the most notable part of the prosecution's closing argument against Ken Paxton on Friday morning came through who was delivering it.
Rep. Andrew Murr had served as the face of the House Impeachment Managers for all of the opening statements, and most of the closing arguments. But with 10 minutes left on the prosecution's clock, Murr yielded the floor to someone else:
Jeff Leach, the Republican state representative from Plano.
What's more, Leach is a former close friend and conservative ally of Paxton.
"None of us want to be here today," Leach told the senators who will decide Paxton's political fate. "I don't. And I'm confident that you don't either. But here we are with a heavy and historic moment before us."
Leach is on the House Board of Managers who were charged with handling the prosecution of Paxton, who was impeached on 20 articles of allegations in May.
Leach on Friday made clear his words were his own, not a speech prepared by a team or a political strategist. He explained the personal nature of the impeachment, for the senators voting on it and, especially, for him, a former close friend of Paxton's.
"This has been one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do in my life," Leach said.
He talked about he and Paxton's close relationship in the past, how they'd talk politics and life and faith and Baylor Bears football. Paxton was a mentor to Leach, he explained.
Leach pushed back on Paxton's attorneys' notion that the impeachment trial derived from a hate of Paxton.
"You could not be more wrong," Leach said. "I have loved Ken Paxton for a long time."
Leach said he long had an open-door invitation to meet with Paxton. But in recent years, "those calls stopped, that open door was closed, and I became increasingly concerned and alarmed and what I saw."
Paxton lawyer Tony Buzbee then objected at this point, arguing that Leach's comments were not grounded in evidence presented in the trial.
"The point is," Leach continued in his statement to the senators, "this is difficult for me, it's been difficult for many of us. I know it will be difficult for you and it should be."
Leach said he and other legislators had pushed and pushed for answers from Paxton about the allegations surrounding his impeachment. But each time, Leach said, Paxton did not respond or turned them down.
"Not once did he come answer questions, in public or in private," Leach said. "We're here today because the people of Texas deserve answers."
Leach lauded the whistleblowers who initially raised concerns about Paxton's alleged dealings with Nate Paul, the Austin real estate developer at the center of bribery accusations against Paxton.
"You courageously spoke out, knowing the consequences and taking the risk," Leach said.
Leach pushed the senators, who will decide Paxton's fate, to ask themselves: "What is right?"
"I believe that is right, as painful as it might be, for you to vote to sustain the articles of impeachment commended to you by the Texas House of Representatives," Leach said.