An angry Texas Gov. Rick Perry was defiant on Saturday, Aug. 16, saying the grand jury indictment of him on two felony counts was the result of a “farce of a prosecution”, and he will explore “every legal avenue” to fight back against what he says is a politically motivated inquiry. “This indictment amounts to nothing more than abuse of power and I cannot and I will not allow that to happen,” Perry said in a short news conference, according to the Texas Tribune. Perry was indicted Friday on two felony counts for his veto of state funding for a district attorney who had been caught drunk driving but refused to step down. The charges include abuse of official capacity, which carries a penalty of five to 99 years behind bars, and coercion of a public servant, which has a penalty of two to 10 years.
“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto,” Perry said, in his first public appearance since the indictment. The charges not only “threaten to tarnish his legacy,” but could also “derail his hopes for a second presidential run,” notes the New York Times. For now though, Perry’s potential 2016 GOP rivals have spoken up to defend the governor, including Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, reports Politico.
This is the full text of the statement Perry gave on Saturday:
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.