Texas Gov. Rick Perry turned himself in to police on Tuesday to be processed in connection with his indictment on abusing his office — though the Republican made the most of it, holding a rally outside the courthouse to rail against the charges.
"I'm going to fight this with every fiber of my being, and we will prevail," he said. "We'll prevail because we're standing for the rule of law."
To chants of "Perry! Perry!" from supporters, drowning out scattered boos, the governor entered the Travis County Courthouse, where he spent slightly more than 10 minutes being fingerprinted and having his mug shot taken and then released.
Walking out, Mr. Perry thanked the court workers for their professionalism, saying they were doing their job — and immediately resumed his attack on the charges brought by the country's Democratic district attorney.
"The actions that I took were lawful, they were legal, and they were proper. This indictment is fundamentally a political act that seeks to achieve at the courthouse what could not be achieved at the ballot box," he said, walking off to more chants of support.
Democrats said Mr. Perry should be taking the proceedings more seriously.
"This may be a sideshow to Rick Perry, but no amount of spin can cover up two felony charges. When Rick Perry has his day in court, his case will be decided by the facts, not theatrics," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin.
A grand jury handed up an indictment late Friday charging Mr. Perry with felony counts of abusing his office and coercing a public official. They found there was enough evidence to take him to trial over his effort to try to force District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after a highly publicized 2013 drunken driving conviction and saying that money for her office's public integrity unit was contingent on her decision.
Ms. Lehmberg refused, and Mr. Perry then vetoed the $7.5 million spending bill for her office.
In an online video released by his political action committee, Mr. Perry portrayed the fight as a righteous battle against a runaway prosecutor who has power over state officials but who was herself tainted.
Even some top Democratic operatives have ridiculed the legal action as unwarranted given the facts.
But the DNC, in a memo Monday, said the investigation wasn't partisan, and it must be allowed to play out.
"Perry's actions are much more than just hardball politics, and there are many more questions to be answered. Was it illegal? Well, a grand jury of Perry's peers thought so, but we'll see. Does it merit further investigation? Absolutely," Mo Elleithee, the DNC's communications director, said in the memo.
Mr. Perry, though, remains unapologetic.
"I'm here today because I did the right thing. I am going to enter this courthouse with my head held high, knowing the actions I took were not only lawful and legal but right," he said at the courthouse. "And if I had to do so, I would veto funding for the public integrity unit again."
Many analysts expect Mr. Perry to make another run for the White House in 2016, hoping to recover from what was a disastrous 2012 bid.
The governor is not letting the legal battle in Austin keep him from a packed travel schedule that will take him to the early-voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over the next two weeks.
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