With Ken Paxton awaiting his impeachment trial, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has appointed a onetime Trump attorney to take his place.
John Scott, Abbott announced on Wednesday, will serve as interim attorney general.
Abbott also appointed Scott to be interim secretary of state in 2021. He left that post in December 2022 having never been confirmed by state lawmakers. His interim appointment as attorney general dodges that same hurdle.
Before becoming secretary of state, Scott briefly represented Trump in a lawsuit seeking to block Pennsylvania’s top elections officer from certifying Biden’s win.
After an appellate court eviscerated the lawsuit’s arguments, Scott withdrew from the case along with another attorney who now serves in the Texas State legislature. A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania attorney who served as a Trump delegate to the RNC replaced Scott in that case.
The aftermath of Trump’s attempt to reverse his defeat rippled throughout the GOP, with MAGA diehards putting pressure on state officials to conduct endless audits in an effort to root out chimerical voter fraud that could have swayed the 2020 election result.
In Texas, a state which Trump won, that pressure crested as Abbott appointed Scott secretary of state, empowering him to oversee an audit of the state’s 2020 results.
The audit was like all of the others in that it found no appreciable evidence of voter fraud.
When not racking up graft allegations and fending off a 2015 state-level securities fraud indictment, Paxton spent much of his time in the attorney general’s office going all-out in using the office for partisan ends. One of the most famous examples was Paxton’s 2020 Supreme Court lawsuit which sought to have the high court hand the election to Trump.
More recently, six Texas AG staffers reportedly took leaves of absence to help Paxton prep for his impeachment defense.
Scott’s history suggests that while he’s been willing to entertain obviously false narratives like the Trumpian claim about doubts in the legitimacy of the 2020 election for a long time, he hasn’t been willing to substantiate them.
Instead, his tenure as secretary of state suggested a more traditional political approach aimed at influencing elections at the margins, the kind of strategy employed by GOP secretaries of state for decades before Trump tried to reverse his loss. The Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund sued his office last year over a program which saw Scott challenge the citizenship status of more than 12,000 registered Texas voters; the Texas Observer reported that Scott called Dinesh D’Souza’s film 2000 Mules “amazing.”
But in an October 2022 interview with Texas Monthly magazine, Scott professed to have no idea why his office was getting death threats after saying that it could not identify evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
“I’ve gotten death threats; my folks in the elections division have gotten death threats,” he said. “It’s become absurd, and I don’t know what’s caused it.”