In a surprising move, Texas House impeachment managers who for more than a week have presented evidence against embattled and suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton rested their case late Wednesday afternoon.
Immediately afterward, defense attorney Tony Buzbee made a motion for what's called a directed verdict, which would dismiss the charges against Paxton outright. The vote requires a simple majority – 16 of the senators present – to acquit.
Senators were instructed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to meet and deliberate the defense's motion. Soon after however, the body reconvened and Patrick said both sides had withdrawn their motions.
This was the defense's latest attempt to dismiss the impeachment charges against the suspended Republican attorney general, who has been accused of bribery and obstruction of justice by prosecutors.
Impeachment managers claim Paxton tried to use his office to shield friend and campaign donor Nate Paul, an Austin real estate developer, from a federal investigation.
Wednesday's sudden development from House managers came as Rusty Hardin, the lead prosecutor, was questioning Blake Brickman, one of several Paxton deputies or assistants who reported the attorney general to the FBI.
The stoppage seemed to catch both sides somewhat off guard because Hardin had not yet passed Brickman, who was Paxton's former deputy attorney general for policy and strategy initiatives, over for cross examination.
The House still had time to question witnesses or to cross examine witnesses brought by the defense.
Hardin admitted his mistake.
"The court is having to put up with a screw up by me," Hardin told the court. "I apologize."
Proceedings then continued with the defense calling witness Michael Gerhardt. But the House team immediately asked to approach the dais and Lt. Gov. Patrick dismissed senators until 9 a.m. Thursday.