Perry pleads not guilty

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges that he abused his power.

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Perry entered the plea in a “waiver of arraignment” filed in a Travis County Court on Tuesday, the same day he turned himself in for booking at the local jail, where he had his mug shot and fingerprints taken.

Perry has characterized the indictment as politically motivated, and on Tuesday, before entering the courthouse, again proclaimed his innocence to a cheering crowd.

“I’m here today because I believe in the rule of law, and I'm here today because I did the right thing,” Perry said. “I am going to enter this courthouse with my head held high knowing that the actions that I took were not only lawful and legal, but right.”

Republicans and conservatives have rallied to Perry's defense and argued the case is politically motivated, something that could help Perry, as he flirts with a 2016 presidential run. 

A Texas grand jury indicted Perry Friday on two felony counts of coercion and official oppression related to his veto of funding for a state public integrity unit that critics charged was intended to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, out of office.

She defied calls from the governor to resign after being arrested and convicted of driving under the influence.

The governor faces a maximum sentence of 109 years in prison but has assembled an all-star legal team to defend him in court.

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