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Abbott Makes His Choice to Replace Paxton During Trial

John Scott represented Trump for three days
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2023 6:55 PM CDT
Texas' Fill-in Attorney General Represented Trump for 3 Days
Texas Secretary of State John B. Scott is pictured in February 2022 in Austin.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday appointed John Scott to temporarily serve as Texas' attorney general after the House of Representatives voted to impeach Ken Paxton over allegations of misconduct and crimes. The historic impeachment triggered Paxton's automatic suspension from office pending the outcome of a trial in the state Senate that could result in his permanent removal. Scott, an attorney, has previously worked in the attorney general's office and recently served as Texas Secretary of State. Abbott appointed him as the state's chief elections officer in October 2021, and he served until December 2022, when he left the post before the state Senate would vote to confirm his appointment, the AP reports.

The Senate has set the impeachment trial to begin no later than Aug. 28. Abbott made the announcement in a statement that did not mention Paxton, a fellow Republican, by name or comment on the accusations against him. The governor has been publicly silent about Paxton since the impeachment proceedings began last week. "John Scott has the background and experience needed to step in as a short-term interim Attorney General during the time the Attorney General has been suspended from duty," Abbott said. Scott joined former President Donald Trump's legal team last year as it challenged the 2020 election results, though he withdrew after three days.

Scott's appointment as Texas' elections chief troubled voting rights groups as it came amid pressure from Trump and Republican activists to perform an audit of elections even though Trump won the state by 300,000 votes, per the AP. Scott also served as deputy attorney general when Abbott was attorney general. As a state litigator, he defended Texas' restrictive voter ID law, which was allowed to take effect after years of court challenges by Democrats and minority rights groups.

(Read more Texas stories.)

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