Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a brief but to-the-point statement Saturday about his indictment on two abuse-of-power counts Friday: He lambasted it as an “outrageous,” politically motivated attack on the Texas Constitution. He appeared at the podium brimming with his signature confidence and swagger, vowing to reveal the “farce of a prosecution ... for what it is.”
Perry is in hot water for his attempts to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who is also the head of the state Public Integrity Unit, or PIU, out of office after she pleaded guilty to a drunk-driving charge in 2013. He first threatened to defund the PIU if Lehmberg didn’t step down, and then made good on his threat. It got him indicted for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant by a Texas grand jury Friday.
Both are felony charges with a combined minimum sentence of seven years in prison.
Perry’s full statement reads as follows:
As governor, I took an oath to faithfully uphold the constitution of Texas, a pledge that I have kept every day as I’ve worked on behalf of Texans for the last 14 years. This same constitution clearly outlines the authority of any governor to veto items at his or her discretion. Just as I have following every legislative session during my service as governor, I exercised this authority to veto funding for an office whose leadership had lost the public’s confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically.
I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto, and will continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor. We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country. It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state’s constitution.
This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot, and will not, allow that to happen. I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win. I will explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter and bring it to a swift conclusion. I am confident we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is, and that those responsible will be held to account.”
Watch him deliver the statement and stick around to answer a few questions from reporters below. The statement begins seven minutes in, and he answers questions at the 9:20 mark: