By Brad Brooks
(Reuters) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday appointed an interim attorney general to fill in for Ken Paxton, who was impeached last week on allegations of corruption and other irregularities.
Abbott said in a written statement that he had appointed John Scott, an attorney and former Texas secretary of state under Abbott, as interim attorney general.
Scott also served as the Texas deputy attorney general for civil litigation from 2012 to 2015, during Abbott’s own final term as attorney general.
Paxton, 60, by law was suspended from his attorney general post after he was impeached by the Texas House of Representatives on Saturday.
The Texas Senate will try Paxton on the 20 articles of impeachment lodged against him. If two-thirds of the 31 senators find him guilty, he will be removed from office. If not, he will be reinstated. The Senate has said Paxton’s trial will begin no later than Aug. 28. Paxton’s wife, Angela, is as a senator and chair of the Republican caucus in the chamber; she has yet to say whether she will recuse herself from his trial.
Allegations of wrongdoing have long dogged Paxton, who was first elected as attorney general in 2014 and has maintained his innocence, saying his detractors are politically motivated.
Paxton was indicted in 2015 by state prosecutors on three felony securities fraud charges. Paxton says he is innocent. No trial has taken place amid repeated procedural delays. The Texas court of criminal appeals is weighing what the venue of any trial should be.
Paxton is also under a separate corruption investigation by the Justice Department, according to the special prosecutors in Texas leading his state case. The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment.
Paxton’s impeachment was triggered by his office’s request that the House fund a $3.3 million lawsuit settlement he reached with four whistleblowers from his office.
The former high-ranking aides to Paxton accused him in 2020 of corruption. They filed a lawsuit against him after being fired.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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