DALLAS — Justice Department officials in Washington have taken over the corruption investigation into Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, removing the case from the hands of the federal prosecutors in Texas who’d long been leading the probe.
The move was disclosed in a statement by state prosecutors handling their own case against Paxton. It’s the latest development in the federal investigation into the attorney general, who came under FBI scrutiny in 2020 after his own top deputies accused him of bribery and abusing his office to help one of his contributor campaigns, who also employed a woman with whom Paxton acknowledged having had an extramarital affair.
The investigation of the three-term Republican is now being led by the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which prosecutes allegations of official misconduct against elected leaders at the local, state and federal level. The US attorney’s office in Texas was recently recused from the complex case after working on it for years — an abrupt change that came within days of Paxton agreeing to apologize and pay $3.3 million in taxpayer money to four of the former staffers who reported him to the FBI.
State prosecutors working on a separate securities fraud case against Paxton — Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer — said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that they were notified of the move. They referred all questions to the Justice Department, which declined to comment.
It’s not known whether Paxton will face charges, although federal investigators in Texas who had worked the case believed there was sufficient evidence for an indictment, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing probe.
It was not immediately clear what prompted top Justice