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Texas AG Paxton to face criminal trial for felony securities fraud

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Years after it was sent to Harris County, the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will move back to his native Collin County, a Harris County judge ruled Thursday.

Paxton, a Republican, was indicted in 2015 on felony securities fraud charges, but the case has yet to go to trial as side battles persist over the venue where he will be tried and the amount the special prosecutors will be paid.

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[See a full timeline of Paxton’ legal drama.]

A judge moved Paxton’s case to Harris County years ago, after prosecutors said they could not get a fair trial in Collin County, Paxton’s home and former district from his time in the state Legislature. His wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, now represents the region.

But Ken Paxton’s defense team argued last year that the judge who initially ordered the move to Harris County did not have the authority to do so, as his time overseeing the case had elapsed. The two attorneys prosecuting Paxton, Brian Wice and Kent Schaffer, disputed that at a December hearing and said the case belongs in Harris County. But Judge Robert Johnson, a Democrat, agreed with Paxton’s defense team in an order this week.

Paxton has been fighting charges that he misled investors in a financial services company from before his time as attorney general. Paxton has pleaded not guilty to all the allegations and was cleared in a similar civil case at the federal level. But when the Texas State Securities Board reprimanded him for soliciting clients without being properly registered, he signed a disciplinary order without disputing its findings.

by Emma Platoff of the Texas Tribune

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Here’s what you need to know about Bill Stepien — the man who just took over Trump’s fledgling campaign

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President Donald Trump announced that his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, is being shoved out of his role given the failures the campaign has suffered over the past seven months.

In his place, for now, at least, will be Bill Stepien.

If that name sounds familiar, it may be because Stepien was part of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal, where, as punishment to Mayor Mark Sokolich, two of three toll lanes were closed during a Monday morning rush hour and weren't reopened until Friday.

The court case quoted Bill Stepien's name over 700 times, including an email in which he claimed, "It will be a tough November for this little Serbian." The mayor was born in Fort Lee, and his lineage isn't Serbian, it's actually Croatian.

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Anti-corruption group files motion in Roger Stone case saying pardon is void due to ‘self dealing’

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The anti-corruption group Free Speech for the People filed a motion with Judge Amy Berman Jackson opposing the pardon of President Donald Trump's pal, Roger Stone.

According to the organization's president, John Bonifaz, there are "limits to the pardon power" that the president holds, "including when the power is abused for self-dealing purposes." He said that Stone's "commutation violates the Take Care Clause of the Constitution," and thus, should be declared void.

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A delay in Trump finance scandal may prevent the prosecution of other people than the president: court filing

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President Donald Trump is continuing to fight the Manhattan District Attorney's case requiring his taxes and financial documents. But in a Wednesday court filing Cy Vance indicated that there is a need for urgency because his case could involve the prosecution of "other people."

Time is of the essence to minimize "any risk that criminal conduct will go unpunished," says Vance in the filing.

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