Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) nominally broke his silence on the impeachment of Ken Paxton, the state’s far-right attorney general, on Wednesday when he formally named Paxton’s replacement: John Scott, a former Texas secretary of state and deputy attorney general.
The governor did not, however, offer any direct comment on the accusations against Paxton or reveal whether he would support Paxton through his impeachment trial.
“[Scott’s] decades of experience and expertise in litigation will help guide him while serving as the state’s top law enforcement officer,” Abbott said in a statement.
Paxton was suspended from his job Saturday when the Texas state House voted overwhelmingly to approve articles of impeachment against him over the staunch objections of former President Donald Trump.
Yet Trump will also be familiar with Scott, who represented the former president in one of his many unsuccessful attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election — albeit briefly.
Texas state law dictates that the governor can appoint an interim attorney general pending the final outcome of an impeachment trial in the state Senate; Paxton’s trial is expected to start no later than Aug. 28.
A history of scandal caught up to Paxton in recent weeks as state lawmakers were forced to consider whether to greenlight $3.3 million in taxpayer funds to settle a whistleblower lawsuit against the attorney general.
Many in the Texas GOP, including House Speaker Dade Phelan, are against using taxpayer money to settle the lawsuit, which was brought on when a group of Paxton’s aides came forward accusing him of unethical conduct.
Several of the aides were subsequently fired in alleged retaliation.
The group had concerns over Paxton’s relationship with a GOP political donor, the Austin-based real estate developer Nate Paul. They said Paxton was using the power of his office to help Paul with business entanglements in exchange for an elaborate home remodel and a job for a woman with whom Paxton was allegedly having an affair.
Prior to the whistleblower suit, Paxton was charged with securities fraud in a 2015 case that, remarkably, has yet to go to trial.