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BREAM: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has made a number of headlines in recent weeks. First, it was his center stage clash with President Obama over the crisis on our border. Then, his campaign stop in Iowa during speculation about a 2016 presidential run. But late this week, news broke that the governor had been indicted on felony charges over alleged abuse of power.
Joining us now from Austin, Governor Rick Perry.
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: Good morning, Shannon.
BREAM: All right. We want to explain to folks what you're facing here. You have been indicted on two felony accounts, abuse of power. The grand jury indictment alleges this, that you, quote, "With the intent to harm another, intentionally or knowingly misused government property, and by means of coercion, intentionally or knowingly influenced or attempted to influence Rosemary Lehmberg, a public servant." She is the D.A. in Travis County.
The head of the Texas Democratic Party said this, quote, "Governor Rick Perry has brought dishonor to his office, his family, and the state of Texas." They're calling for you to step down.
How do you respond?
PERRY: Well, I think it's important for people to understand the details of this. And the D.A., the highest ranking prosecutor in Travis County, who also has oversight for state officials -- this individual was stopped driving while drunk. She had almost three times the legal limit of alcohol, .238 I believe is what it was.
When you look at the video, not only of the stop, if you look at the video of Ms. Lehmberg when she was being booked into the county jail, the abusiveness, she was kicking on the door. She was abusing the law officials. She had to be restrained.
And when you look at that and you have to make a decision on whether or not $7.5 million of Texas taxpayer money is going to go to the unit that she oversees, I very clearly, I very publicly said as long as that individual is going to be running that agency, I had lost confidence in her. The public had lost confidence in her, and I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision on whether or not it was in the proper use of state money to go to that agency, and I vetoed it.
That's what the rule of law is really about, Shannon. And I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas, and if I had to do it again, I would make exactly the same decision.
BREAM: Well, a special prosecutor in this case says he thinks you should take this seriously. He's looked at the law, he's looked at the facts, interviewed more than 40 people. You know these charges on conviction could result in more than 100 years in prison. He's convinced a grand jury, it is a different game with a jury.
But is there any small part of you that's worried at all that that will happen?
PERRY: Well, I certainly take everything I do seriously. The rule of law in particularly I take seriously.
But let me just -- let me just share with you, David Axelrod said this was a very sketchy indictment. Professor Dershowitz, who is not exactly my cheerleader, said that it was outrageous. 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.
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 Rick Scott and Jeb Bush and 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.
BREAM: You mentioned the David Axelrod tweet. He said the indictment seems to him, quote, "pretty sketchy." So, you do have support from an unlikely source there.
Now, something that you and Mr. Axelrod probably don't agree on is the issue of immigration. You have been very vocal about what's going on in Texas and have called the administration to task. They say now the number show that the influx of those unaccompanied children who are coming across the border illegally has dropped significantly.
To what do you attribute that? Do you give the administration any credit for the numbers going down?
PERRY: Well, here's what I know is happening. Almost six weeks ago, we surged into that area of operation with our Department of Public Safety, our Texas Ranger Recon Teams, our Parks and Wildlife.
We brought real attention to the issue. We're sending messages back to Central America that you should not send your children hereby. They're not going to be able to walk across the border. We talked powerfully about surging the National Guard into that area as well.
So, I would suggest to you that the issue here really goes back to that rule of law, if you will. We're not securing the border as the Constitution calls for us to.
When you add the IRS scandal that's going on and the outside of the rule of law there, and then you look at what's happened in Austin, Texas, with this grand jury, I think there is some extraordinary concern in this country about the rule of law not being followed and too many things are being decided in arenas that shouldn't be decided from the standpoint of a government that's out of control.
People want to get back to the rule of law and knowing with certainty that our border is going to be secure, that the IRS is not going to come knocking down their door looking for things, and that the NSA is not listening in on our phone conversations. BREAM: Well, longer term on this particular issue, the administration has signaled that the president is considering executive action, with respect to immigration. He said he's basically been left no choice because of lawmakers.
Here's what he said just before the folks on Capitol Hill left for their August recess.
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OBAMA: If, in fact, House Republicans are concerned about me acting independently of Congress, despite the fact that I have taken fewer executive actions than my Republican predecessor or my Democratic predecessor before that or the Republican predecessor before that, then the easiest way to solve it is pass some legislation. Get things done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: And the administration's publicly called on you to get behind that. I think a letter back in July than Valerie Jarrett sent specifically and publicly asking you to influence lawmakers to get something done on Capitol Hill. So, is that the solution? And absent that, does the president have no choice left but to act, as he says?
PERRY: Well, here's what I think is very important for the president to understand, and for Washington to understand as well. You're not going to have comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secure.
The American people do not trust this president, and they do not trust Washington to do these two things at the same time. They expect the border to be safe.
When a border patrol agent was killed in Willacy County this last week by an individual who had been deported multiple times, the people of the state of Texas -- and I will suggest to you, all across the country -- are fed up with that. They want this border to be secured. They want to be able to live in their communities and feel like they're safe.
And if this president does not do what's required to secure the border first, I will suggest to you: whatever he does is going to be a failure.
BREAM: Well, to that end, the first wave of National Guard troops that you called up are now positioned there. Estimates it's going to cost anywhere from $12 million to maybe up to $18 million a month to have them there.
One of your frequent critics, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro says there's no defined mission for these troops. He says, "Essentially, it appears to be a feel-good show of force without clear purpose."
There had been questions about whether you would grant these individuals the ability to apprehend, to arrest. What is there role, and how do you respond to critics who say you're using the border to fuel your 2016 ambition?
PERRY: Well, I think that anyone who wants to make this be about politics needs to go to Willacy County and to Mrs. Vega, Ms. Marie Vega, whose son, that border patrol agent, former marine, great American patriot, who was killed -- shot down in cold blood by an individual who had been deported multiple times.
I hope Mr. Castro or anybody else who's being critical of this thinks that that's political.
It's not. The citizens of this country and the citizens of Texas expect to be able to live in safety in their communities. That's what the rule of law is truly all about.
Washington has failed at that. This president has failed. He has had almost six years to address this issue. He refuses to.
That is what must be addressed, and I'm going to do it, and Texas is going to do it. We're going to secure the border of this country and do everything in our power to make sure our citizens are safe.
BREAM: All right, Governor, let's talk beyond Texas. How about we talk about Iowa? Because by our count, you've been there four times since the last election.
You were there last week where conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats said this, quote, "It was the best I've ever heard Perry. I thought he's raised his game substantially."
So, what can you tell us about running in 2016?
PERRY: Well, I hope that I can be very helpful between now and the 4th of November so that Joni Ernst will go to the United States Senate representing Iowa. Obviously, Terry Branstad is going to be a fabulous job and win (ph) going our way up there, but there are some other races that we worked with.
Their State Senate is just a couple seats away from having control, Republican control, so that they have both the House, the Senate, the governor, the lieutenant governor, and they can then become an incredibly influential state from the standpoint of economic development.
Between now to November 4th is what I'm focused on. 2016 will take care of itself.
BREAM: All right. November 5th, if you want to come talk to us about 2016, Governor, please do.
BREAM: Good to see you this morning. Governor Perry, thank you for joining us.
PERRY: Thanks, Shannon. Yes, ma'am.
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