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Tuesday May 31st, 2016 2:17AM

Defiant Gov. Perry rejects 'outrageous' indictment

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry is lashing out at the "outrageous" criminal charges filed against him and defending the veto that led a grand jury to indict him on two felony counts of abuse of power.<br /> <br /> Perry, a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, appeared defiant Saturday when he met with reporters outside his Capitol office in Austin, Texas.<br /> <br /> Already the longest-serving governor in state history - in office since December 2000 - he made it clear that he plans to complete his final term in January as planned.<br /> <br /> "We don't settle political differences with indictments in this country," Perry said. "It is outrageous that someone would use political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state's constitution."<br /> <br /> His scheduled appearance on Sunday morning news show was expected to provide him with a national audience to press his case.<br /> <br /> 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 who refused to resign following a drunken-driving arrest. That 2013 veto prompted a criminal investigation.<br /> <br /> "The details of my decision-making were very clear. I said early on that I was going to clearly veto those dollars as long as they had someone in that office who I had lost confidence in," Perry said. "And I had lost confidence."<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> Perry said he was confident that he would prevail and said those responsible for this "farce of a prosecution" would be held accountable.<br /> <br /> Many Democrats criticized Perry's aggressive reaction to the indictment and accused him of trying to shift the blame.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> "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.<br /> <br /> 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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