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Abbott announces second interim attorney general after first leaves weeks into job

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(The Center Square) – Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced he appointed a second interim attorney general after the first one he appointed held the post for roughly 40 days.

After the House voted to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton on May 27, he was suspended but not removed from office. On the same day, First Assistant Attorney General Bruce Webster announced he was temporarily filling the role, citing state government code.

On May 31, Gov. Abbott announced he was filling the role on a temporary basis with former Secretary of State John Scott, citing Article 15, Section 5 of the Texas Constitution. Scott was to fill the role until the Senate issued its verdict.

Roughly 40 days later, Abbott on Monday announced he was filling the role again with a second interim replacement without giving an explanation for his abrupt departure.

Abbott appointed Angela Colmenero as the second interim AG, stating she begins her new position on Friday.

Colmenero was most recently named Gov. Abbott’s Deputy Chief of Staff after she served as Principal Deputy General Counsel to the Governor since November 2021. She previously served as Deputy General Counsel to the Governor beginning in September 2018. For nearly a decade prior, she held various positions at the Texas Attorney General’s Office, including serving under Abbott when he was the former AG. She holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame Law School and the University of Texas at Austin.

She “has firsthand experience on how the agency operates,” Abbott said. “Angela’s record of experience in state government and expertise in litigation will help her oversee the Texas Attorney General’s Office and serve as our state’s top law enforcement officer as the Texas Senate conducts impeachment proceedings.”

Gov. Abbott thanked Scott for his service, saying he “faithfully executed his duties as the interim Attorney General of Texas.”

While Scott held the interim AG position, he couldn’t oversee his Fort Worth law practice at the same time. With Paxton’s attorney Tony Buzbee suggesting the Senate should prepare for a year-long trial, along with other factors, some have speculated Scott couldn’t give up his legal practice work and hold the AG role for the long term.

He previously stepped in to fill an open position as the Secretary of State in late 2021 for roughly one year to return to his law practice. He also previously served as the deputy attorney general overseeing all civil litigation.

Two and a half hours after Abbott made the announcement, Scott sent out an email with a statement and resignation letter. The letter states he’s returning to the private sector and thanks the governor for “honoring my request that this duty be limited in time.”

Scott said it was an honor to serve as the provisional AG “always with an understanding that my duration would be limited in time. Governor Abbott honored my request which allows me to return to working as a consultant, attorney and board member for a broad variety of companies.

“The women and men of the Office of the Attorney General are exceptional as are their daily efforts in representing all Texans. Working beside them these past weeks was an opportunity to again serve in an organization that was for me, the very best professional experience of my life.”

Paxton’s impeachment trial is set to begin Sept. 5. Paxton, who maintains the impeachment vote was illegal, will not be attending the trial. The Senate rules do not require him to attend.

Pre-trial motions are due Aug. 5; responses are due by Aug. 15. Attorneys for both sides have a deadline of Aug. 22 to present their witness lists to the Senate. The lists aren’t being made available to the public.

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