WASHINGTON -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) took to the airwaves on Monday afternoon to defend himself against allegations of abuse of power, while his lawyers told reporters they would not try his case in the press.
Appearing on Sean Hannity’s radio program while his defense lawyers held a press conference at a hotel in Austin, Texas, Perry repeated his previous suggestions that an indictment brought against him by a grand jury on Friday was politically motivated.
"This is the type of lawlessness that we cannot and will not accept in the state of Texas. This needs to be exposed for the absolute corrupt process that it is,” Perry said. "There is a continuity here of the philosophy that if you can't beat them at the ballot box, if you can't beat them in the court of public opinion, indict them."
Perry, who has served as governor since 2000, was indicted on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office. Prosecutors claim that Perry tried to force Travis County district attorney Rosemary Lehmberg (D) to resign after she was arrested for drunk driving by threatening to veto funds for her office. When Lehmberg refused to step down, Perry followed through on his veto.
But at the press conference, Perry’s defense team suggested there was no evidence to support the claim that Perry had threatened Lehmberg with a veto, the Austin-American Daily Statesman reported. Even if Perry had threatened her, Perry’s lawyers said, the governor was innocent because he was protected by the First Amendment.
Perry’s defense team also played video of Lehmberg’s arrest and said that the governor would be acquitted in court.
“We look forward to not trying this case in the press, but trying this case in the courtroom,” said Tony Buzbee, Perry’s lead defense lawyer. Buzbee added that details for how Perry’s lawyers would be paid are still being worked out.
Meanwhile, when Hannity asked Perry if he thought the indictment was an attempt to stop a possible presidential run in 2016, Perry did not provide a straight answer.
"The really hard-core left, they're not above sinking somebody's political or personal life to block someone being engaged in that type of activity," he said. "You know, the timing is suspect, to say the least."