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Source work on Texas attorney general puts AP out front of news on DOJ takeover of probe

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Jake Bleiberg, Texas newsperson, and Eric Tucker, Washington newsperson, used strong sourcing and teamwork to break the news that Justice Department officials in Washington had taken over the public corruption investigation into the Texas state attorney general and that the local prosecuting office that had led the probe for years had been recused. It was a significant development in an investigation that has long been major news in Texas and that AP has dominated for years.

The work began when Tucker learned from a source that investigators in Texas felt confident that they had the makings of a solid, winnable case against the attorney general, Ken Paxton, and had been trying to push it forward. He took it to Bleiberg, who did additional reporting to confirm that assessment and came back days later with an additional important fact: that the Justice Department’s public corruption section was now running the case exclusively.

Bleiberg worked with sources he’s cultivated over years to figure out a way to make the closely held information public without exposing any sources. Ultimately, publishable confirmation of the move came through a statement that state prosecutors gave to AP an hour before releasing it to anyone else. By the time Bleiberg got the statement, he and Tucker had a full story ready to be edited.

The story got enormous play in Texas, with the Houston Chronicle and Texas Tribune later publishing their own stories that prominently credited AP. CNN later matched the story, also crediting AP, and former Justice Department officials tweeted out the story and noted that it was a significant and unusual development.

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