Texas governor and likely 2016 presidential hopeful Rick Perry was indicted on Friday for abuse of power.
The basic gist is that he threatened to eliminate the funding of a state investigatory body unless its head — who had been arrested on a DWI — resigned. She refused to resign. He followed through and killed its funding. This is what he’s being indicted for — supposedly abusing his power in an attempt to oust a political foe.
As we noted yesterday, even liberals think the indictment looks very weak. Basically, the view is that he’s being indicated for just doing the functions of the governor, even if there was some political hardball involved.
The most brutal takedown comes from liberal New York Magazine pundit Jonathan Chait who writes:
The theory behind the indictment is flexible enough that almost any kind of political conflict could be defined as a “misuse” of power or “coercion” of one’s opponents. To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves. Perry may not be much smarter than a ham sandwich, but he is exactly as guilty as one.
You never know how things will turn out, but so far, very few people are impressed.
Here is another report….
“We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry told reporters at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. “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.”
Perry was indicted Friday evening and accused of using his veto power to try and coerce the resignation of Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat with state-level prosecuting authority. Perry, echoing the arguments of his lawyers and other observers, insisted he had the complete right to cut her funding after she was convicted of drunk driving in 2013.
“I exercised this authority to veto funding for an office whose leadership had lost the public’s confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically,” he said. “I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto and I’ll continue to defend this lawful action of my execution authority as governor.”
Perry, a possible 2016 presidential contender, also said he would ultimately win in the case. When that happens, he predicted, the “prosecution will be revealed for what it is.”
“I intend to win. I’ll explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter and bring it to a swift conclusion. I am confident that we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is. And those responsible will be held accountable,” he said.
Michael McCrum, the special prosecutor, has already dismissed at least some Perry’s accusations and defended the integrity of his investigation. Earlier in the day, McCrum told the San Antonio Express-News that Perry’s lawyer couldn’t have been more wrong when he claimed the indictment “represents political abuse of the court system.”
“He can only be implying that it’s either me, or the grand jury, who are motivated by politics, and that’s not only ridiculous, but it’s disappointing,” McCrum told the paper.
McCrum told the Associated Press he will meet Perry’s attorney on Monday to discuss the indictments.