MSNBC's Mark Halperin: Perry Indictment 'Stupidest Thing I've Seen in My Career'

August 18, 2014 - 10:54 AM

Rick Perry Indicted

Texas Governor Rick Perry. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on two felony counts of abusing his power "potentially was the stupidest thing I've seen, I think, in my entire career," MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday. "I hope some judge throws it out right away.

"It's not just kind of funny and ridiculous. But it's an infringement on individual liberty. He's got a first amendment right -- just because he's the governor of Texas. And I think, like I said, it's easy to joke about this, but this is a serious thing. It is ridiculous that he was indicted for this," Halperin said.

As CNSNews.com has reported, the indictment alleges that Gov. Perry "misused government property" and "by means of coercion" tried to get Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, an elected Democrat, to quit her job after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving in April 2013.

A video taken inside the jail after her arrest shows that Lehmberg was aggressive, uncooperative, and had to be restrained.

Lehmberg heads the county's Public Integrity Unit, and Perry vetoed funding for her office when she refused to resign, as he warned her he would do.

Reacting to the indictment on Saturday, Perry said he exercised his authority to veto funding for the Travis County DA's office, whose leader "had lost the public's confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically."

"I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto, and will continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor," Perry said.

"This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot, and will not, allow that to happen. I intend to fight against those who would erode our state's constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win.

"I will explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter and bring it to a swift conclusion. I am confident we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is, and that those responsible will be held to account."

David Axelrod, who once served as a top adviser to President Obama, also cast doubt on Perry's indictment on Saturday, tweeting: "Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy."

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax that he is a "liberal Democrat who would never vote for Rick Perry," but still, he said Perry's indictment is politically motivated:

"Everybody, liberal or conservative, should stand against this indictment," Dershowitz said on Saturday. "If you don't like how Rick Perry uses his office, don't vote for him."

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who has criticized Perry in the past, nevertheless said he views the indictment as "very troubling."

"Putting aside the partisan passions on both sides, the jailing of a top prosecutor raises a legitimate question of her competence to continue in office," Turley blogged on Saturday.

"Perry decided to use the one means that he could to try to push her to resign. I think he was wrong given the public integrity role of the office and jurisdiction over state officials like Perry himself. Perry had every right to call for her resignation but to threaten to effectively kill the office was unwise. Yet, none of this supports the indictment in my view.

"This was not an effort by Perry to coerce a favor for a friend or force an official to drop an investigation. It was not a secret communication made between politicians. It was a public commitment made in response to a public scandal."

Perry, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," noted that both Axelrod and Dershowitz had criticized the move to indict him: "So I think across the board, you're seeing people weigh in and reflecting that this is way outside of the norm. This is not the way that we settle differences, political differences, in this country. You don't do it with indictments. We settle our political differences at the ballot box," Perry said.

"And I think, you know, across the board, when you got David Axelrod and Harvard law professor Dershowitz saying the things that they said, I think it's really reflective of what we're looking at here.

"And I also want to say thanks to people like (Fla. Gov.) Rick Scott and (former Fla. Gov.) Jeb Bush and (Louisiana Gov.) Bobby Jindal and Senator Ted Cruz, that have very publicly stated that they, too, that think this is way outside the realm of any type of thoughtful look at the laws in the state of Texas."