Defiant Gov. Rick Perry of Texas Appears in Court in Abuse-of-Power Case

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a former—and potentially future—Republican presidential candidate, made his first court appearance Thursday in an abuse-of-power case and insisted that the legal trouble is not distracting him from his job.

Perry sat silently in an Austin courtroom while lawyers argued over whether the special prosecutor in the case was improperly sworn in.

The judge did not immediately rule.

Rick Perry
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Rick Perry

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An indictment accuses Perry of pressuring a prosecutor to resign by threatening to veto money for her anti-corruption division.

The prosecutor had been arrested on a drunken-driving charge. Perry later followed through on the threat. He has called the charges politically motivated.

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On Thursday, Perry said that he had used his veto power properly and would do it again.

Asked by reporters whether the case was a distraction, either for the governorship or a potential presidential campaign, Perry cited his handling of border security and the Ebola cases in Texas.

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"I'm able to multitask pretty good," he said. "I don't have any question about being able to multitask."