A combative Rick Perry on Thursday dismissed the criminal indictment against him, arguing that the number of Democrats coming to his defense is evidence that the charges are without substance.
Speaking before a friendly audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, Perry amplified his accusations that the indictment is a partisan witch-hunt and reiterated his vows to fight it head on.
Perry was indicted Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas, on two separate felony charges surrounding his veto of state funding for the county's Public Integrity Unit. The head of that unit, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, was convicted last year of drunk driving, leading Perry to call for her resignation. When Lehmberg refused, Perry vetoed $7.5 million in funding.
State prosecutors said Perry’s veto was a criminal abuse of office, charging him last week with abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.
“The law is the law,” special prosecutor Michael McCrum said Friday.
A confident Perry said Thursday that he did nothing to violate the state's constitution.
“I am very confident in my case, and I can assure you that I will fight this attack on our system of government,” he said. “With my fellow citizens — both the Republicans and Democrats — I aim to defend our constitution and stand up for the rule of law in the state of Texas.”
A number of liberal commentators have weighed in on the side of Perry.
Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Obama, took to Twitter to call the indictment “sketchy.” Davis, who served as adviser to former President Clinton, urged Democrats to denounce the charges.
Dershowitz, a constitutional scholar who spent a long career at Harvard University, said the indictment is “what happens in totalitarian societies.” And Chait, a liberal-leaning writer for New York Magazine, called the charges “unbelievably ridiculous.”