Texas Governor Perry defends veto that led to charges

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Rick Perry - updated 8/19/2014
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Texas Governor Perry defends veto that led to charges

Texas Gov. Rick Perry was booked Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, on two felony counts for allegedly carrying out political threats.

(Image courtesy: Travis County Sheriff's Office)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, center, arrives at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, center, is booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry has been booked on two felony counts of abuse of power for carrying out a threat to veto funding to state public corruption prosecutors. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media and supporters after he was booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, leaves the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center after he was booked, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media and supporters after he was booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media and supporters after he was booked at the Blackwell Thurman Criminal Justice Center, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Perry was indicted last week on charges of coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit run. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry casts his vote in the Cast you Kernel competition at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry walks on the main concourse before speaking at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry walks on the main concourse before speaking at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Governor Rick Perry pauses as he addresses attendees at the 2014 Red State Gathering, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry gives a thumbs-up to supporters before speaking at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Gov. Rick Perry makes a statement in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 concerning the indictment on charges of coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity. Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Texas Governor Rick Perry waits to greet US President Barack Obama in Dallas, Texas, on July 9, 2014 as he arrives for a meeting with local elected officials and faith leaders to discuss the urgent humanitarian situation at the Southwest border. Obama requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to help cope with a surge of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 31: Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Some of the biggest names in the Republican Party made appearances at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 31: Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during the final day of the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference on May 31, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Some of the biggest names in the Republican Party made appearances at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference, which hosts 1,500 delegates from across the country through May 31. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Texas Governor Rick Perry waits to greet US President Barack Obama in Dallas, Texas, on July 9, 2014 as he arrives for a meeting with local elected officials and faith leaders to discuss the urgent humanitarian situation at the Southwest border. Obama requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to help cope with a surge of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
This Aug. 8, 2014, photo shows Governor Rick Perry as he speaks at the 2014 Red State Gathering, in Fort Worth, Texas. The Associated Press has tracked the movements and machinations of more than a dozen prospective presidential candidates including Perry. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to reporters following a fund-raising breakfast for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Thursday, May 29, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Rick Perry arrives at the Champions of Jewish Values International Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on Sunday, May 18, 2014 in New York. (Photo by Scott Roth/Invision/AP)
Gov. Rick Perry gives a speech during the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, June, 5, 2014. In his address, the longest-serving governor in the state's history focused more on the future and national issues than his political legacy at home. (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry)
FILE - In this April 23, 2014 file photo Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks in New York after trying to convince companies to move their operations to Texas. If Perry opts to make a second presidential run, his business-friendly policies in Texas will be his main selling points. But back home, members of his own party seem poised to dismantle key parts of his legacy. Among the targets: the special state funds Perry used to attract top employers to Texas. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to the media after meeting with business owners Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at a barbecue restaurant in New York. Perry, a Republican, made the trip to try to convince companies to move their operations to Texas, where he says the business climate is friendlier. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Gov. Rick Perry gives a speech during the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday, June, 5, 2014. In his address, the longest-serving governor in the state's history focused more on the future and national issues than his political legacy at home. (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry)
File - In this May 28, 2013, file photo Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks in Austin, Texas. Perry waded into Missouri's political battle over taxes Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, endorsing an uphill effort by Republican legislators to override Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of an income tax cut. Perry plans to make a personal appearance next week in Missouri to tout Texas' business-friendly environment. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a ceremonial signing of a water fund bill, Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Austin, Texas. The legislative session ended Monday, but Perry immediately called lawmakers back for a special session. They have 30 days to approve new voting maps, though the governor will likely add more items to the agenda. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
President Barack Obama, right, talks with Texas Gov. Rick Perry as they walk on the tarmac during his arrival on Air Force One at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Thursday, May 9, 2013 in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)
FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2013 file photo, Texas Gov. Rick Perry addresses the opening session of the 83rd Texas Legislature in Austin, Texas. Perry announced Wednesday, April 17, 2013, that he is heading to Illinois to recruit businesses to relocate to Texas. He will spend one night in Chicago from April 23-24 meeting with business leaders in the biotechnology and financial industries. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Texas Gov, Rick Perry, speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks to reporters after a speech Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Dallas. In his speech to business leaders, Gov. Perry outlined how he would continue pressing for spending some of the state's reserves on water and transportation projects. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry looks over papers as he arrives at the Texas Capitol to deliver the state of the state address, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2013 file photo, Gov. Rick Perry delivers the state of the state address in the house chambers at the state capitol, in Austin, Texas. With nearly two million illegal immigrants and a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, Texas has more at stake than most states in the renewed push to overhaul the nation's immigration system. Yet so far, Perry and Republicans who control the Legislature have been conspicuously sitting this debate out. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, right, shakes hands after addressing the opening session of the 83rd Texas Legislature, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry casts his vote in the Cast you Kernel competition at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Texas Gov. Rick Perry walks on the main concourse before speaking at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The fair runs through Aug. 17th. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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BY KEN THOMAS

WASHINGTON (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Sunday defended the veto that led a grand jury to indict him on two felony counts of abuse of power, noting that even some Democrats have questioned the move by prosecutors.

"I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas, and if I had to do it again I would make exactly the same decision," Perry, a potential candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said.

Already the longest-serving governor in state history, Perry has made it clear that he plans to complete his third and final term in January as planned. In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," the governor noted that David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, had called the indictment "sketchy" while Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz had questioned the move.

"Across the board you're seeing people weigh in and reflecting that this is way outside of the norm. This is not the way that we settle differences, political differences in this country," Perry said. "You don't do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box."

A Travis County grand jury on Friday indicted Perry for carrying out a threat to veto state funds to the local district attorney, an elected Democrat, unless she resigned following her arrest and conviction for drunken driving. That 2013 veto prompted a criminal investigation.

Perry said he had lost confidence in the prosecutor and had been clear about his intentions to veto the funding. The governor said Sunday that the indictment reflected a larger problem of government agencies not following the rule of law, pointing to the Internal Revenue Service scandal in Washington and concerns about National Security Agency surveillance.

Several Republicans have come to Perry's defense and the governor has received words of support from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

"This is the criminalization of just the legislative function and when you do that you weaken democracy. This is certainly a political attack, and this is very bad precedent," said Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, who appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Perry is the first Texas governor since 1917 to be indicted. The charges came as he has sought to reintroduce himself to Republican leaders and rank-and-file party members eager to win back the White House. Several stumbles during his presidential bid in 2012 led to his early departure from the race.

Perry's veto cut $7.5 million in funding to the state's ethics watchdog housed in the county district attorney's office. A state judge assigned a special prosecutor to investigate the veto following a complaint filed by a left-leaning watchdog group, which accused Perry of trying to leverage his power to force the resignation of District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg.

That unit of public corruption investigators is based in Austin, a liberal haven in the mostly conservative state. Voters in the county reliably elect a Democrat to serve as district attorney.

Perry said Saturday he was confident that he would prevail and said those responsible for this "farce of a prosecution" would be held accountable.

Many Democrats criticized Perry's aggressive reaction to the indictment and accused him of trying to shift the blame.

Yet state Sen. Wendy Davis, the face of the party in Texas who's running a high-profile campaign for governor, took a more cautious tone Saturday.

"The charges that were brought down by the grand jury are very, very serious," Davis said, adding that she trusted the justice system to do its job.

Tensions between Republicans and the public integrity unit have simmered for years. Conservatives have long grumbled that the unit operates through a partisan lens and targets Republicans.

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