AUSTIN, Texas — A defiant Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was booked on Tuesday on two felony charges related to his handling of a local political controversy.
Perry voluntarily appeared at the Travis County Courthouse to be fingerprinted and to have his mug shot taken.
“I’m going to enter this courthouse with my head held high knowing that the actions I took were not only lawful and legal but right,” Perry told reporters.
“I’m going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being, and we will prevail and we’ll prevail because we’re standing for the rule of law,” he said.
The charges allege Perry misused his office by improperly threatening to and then withholding state funds for a program run by a county prosecutor unless she resigned.
Perry, a Republican, was indicted last week on counts alleging coercion of a public servant and abuse of his official capacity.
His initial court appearance is scheduled for Friday.
The case centers on Perry’s veto in June 2013 of $7.5 million approved by the Legislature to fund a public integrity unit run by Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat. He wanted her out, following a drunk-driving arrest. She refused to leave.
His legal team insists he had a legal right to tie funding for the public integrity unit to Lehmberg’s removal, and argues he had no legal obligation to explain his veto. Perry said on Tuesday that he would do the same thing again if faced with the same situation.
Many Republicans and some Democrats have come to Perry’s defense. Even Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, a Democrat, wasn’t as strident in her reaction as her party’s state committee, which called on Perry to step down.
“Those are very serious charges and I as a lawyer understand and trust the justice system and I will rely on it to do its job,” she said on Monday.
Perry is entering his final few months in office after a historic 14-year run in Austin, and it’s unclear how the charges might impact any presidential run.
It’s an open secret he’s laying groundwork for a second White House campaign after his disastrous 2012 effort and is due to visit key states in coming weeks.