Donald Trump says he’d consider Ken Paxton for U.S. attorney general

By Jasper Scherer, The Texas Tribune

Donald Trump says he’d consider Ken Paxton for U.S. attorney general” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Former President Donald Trump said he would consider tapping Ken Paxton for U.S. attorney general if he wins a second term in the White House, calling his longtime ally “a very talented guy” and praising his tenure as Texas’ chief legal officer.

“I would, actually,” Trump said Saturday when asked by a KDFW-TV reporter if he would consider Paxton for the national post. “He’s very, very talented. I mean, we have a lot of people that want that one and will be very good at it. But he’s a very talented guy.”

Paxton has long been a close ally of Trump, famously waging an unsuccessful legal challenge to Trump’s 2020 election loss in four battleground states. He also spoke at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

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Paxton’s loyalty was rewarded with an endorsement from Trump in the 2022 primary, which helped the attorney general fend off three prominent GOP challengers.

Trump also came to Paxton’s defense when he was impeached last year for allegedly accepting bribes and abusing the power of his office to help a wealthy friend and campaign donor. After Paxton was acquitted in the Texas Senate, Trump claimed credit, citing his “intervention” on his Truth Social platform, where he denounced the proceedings and threatened political retribution for Republicans who backed the impeachment.

“I fought for him when he had the difficulty and we won,” he told KDFW. “He had some people really after him, and I thought it was really unfair.”

Trump’s latest comments, delivered at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas, come after a series of recent polls have shown the presumptive Republican nominee leading President Joe Biden in a handful of key battleground states.

Paxton has also seen his political prospects rise in recent months, after prosecutors agreed in March to drop three felony counts of securities fraud that had loomed over Paxton for nearly his entire tenure as attorney general. The resolution of the nine-year-old case, along with Paxton’s impeachment acquittal in the Senate last fall, has brought him closer than ever to a political career devoid of legal drama.

Still, Paxton’s critics say he is far from vindicated. He remains under federal investigation for the same allegations that formed the basis of his impeachment, and he continues to face a whistleblower lawsuit from former deputies who said they were illegally fired for reporting Paxton to law enforcement. A separate lawsuit from the state bar seeks to penalize Paxton for his 2020 election challenge, which relied on discredited claims of election fraud.

If nominated, Paxton would need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The chamber is narrowly divided along party lines, with Democrats holding a 51-49 majority. One of the most prominent Republican members, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, has been an outspoken critic of Paxton, while Paxton has openly entertained the idea of challenging Cornyn in 2026.

Paxton is not the only Texan Trump has floated for a high-profile spot in his potential administration. In February, he said Gov. Greg Abbott is “absolutely” on his short list of potential vice presidential candidates. Abbott has since downplayed his interest in the job.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/05/20/donald-trump-ken-paxton-attorney-general/.

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