The Washington Times - July 27, 2010, 04:41PM

All emphasis is mine

7/28/10 12:07 PM EST - Update

SEE RELATED:


AUDIO

Rep. Charlie Rangel’s response to a Capitol Hill reporter who asked if the New York Congressman would rather not be facing the hearing on Thursday was fairly interesting: 

“This has all been a nightmare. I always did want from the very first day that I was referred to the Ethics Committee for it to be resolved in any way that was fair an equitable.”

When pressed about whether he was hoping for an agreement before Thursday’s hearing, Mr. Rangel said he did not know what the reporter was talking about. However, when finally asked if he would rather not go through Thursday, Congressman Rangel said, “I really don’t know whether that’s so or not, because I don’t know what my options are—not as opposed to what. I wish this thing never happened. I wish there was no Thursday, but the situation being what it is, it’s one step at a time. So, compared to being lynched, I’d rather go through Thursday.”

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7/27/10 6:00 PM EST - Update

AUDIO

I’ve just finished speaking with Rep. Charlie Rangel about the ethics allegations against him and the upcoming trial. He is saying that he never met with Ethics Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, last night to discuss a deal.

Mr. Rangel told me that he knows of no deals that have been arranged with the Ethics Committee regarding the pending ethics allegations against him. 

“These types of things are what we do in conference. Until everything is agreed upon, nothing is agreed upon, and everything is not agreed upon.”

I asked Mr. Rangel if he felt the New York Democrats were piling on him and hoping to welcome another Congressman into the seat like Adam Clayton Powell IV, who is running against Mr. Rangel in the primary this year.

“Nothing has changed at all as relates to my district politically or my New York delegation which includes my Senators,” Mr. Rangel said to me.

“Resignation is also the last thing on Congressman Rangel’s mind. Mr. Rangel said that “Resignation is often asked of a person my age, but it is never been anything that I’ve entertained, and I don’t see any reason to change my general attitude about my ability to serve my Congressional district,” he said.

 

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7/27/10 5:00 PM EST - Update: Politico is reporting that Rep. Rangel’s chances of cutting a deal with the Ethics Committee may have hit a snag:

Rep. Charlie Rangel’s chances of cutting an ethics deal are in jeopardy over allegations that he met privately with Ethics Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) Monday night without any Republican members of the bipartisan panel present. 

Lofgren says she hasn’t spoken to Rangel since last Tuesday and sources close to Rangel deny that there was an attempt to cut a backroom deal with Lofgren. But Rangel’s attorneys met with Democratic ethics committee staff Monday, according to people close to the investigation.

It’s unclear whether Lofgren and Rangel themselves attended this meeting, but even if Democratic aides and lawyers met without their GOP counterparts present, that could cause problems with Republicans.

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As Congressman Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, finds himself up against pending ethics allegations, lawmakers on the Hill from both parties are not taking sides on the issue just yet.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday, “Mr. Rangel has to do what Mr. Rangel believes is appropriate and proper.”

Mr. Rangel, a 20-term congressman, told media on Tuesday that he would not discuss if there was a deal in the works before the House Ethics Committee meets on Thursday. The Ethics Committee will reveal allegations of Mr. Rangel’s misconduct to the public in a report.

“He’s entitled to his day in court so to speak. When he knows the charges, he’ll want the opportunity to respond to them and given his service to the country, he deserves it,” said fellow New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat. “This is a man’s life. This is a man’s career. I think he’s entitled to be able to answer the charges,” he said.

Republicans are holding their fire over the Rangel ethics probe themselves. GOP leadership is also waiting to see what the Ethics Committee comes out with.

“We’re going to let the Ethics Committee do its job, and the Ethics Committee appears to be doing its job, and I hope the process continues and it comes to a resolution,” said House Minority leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican.

Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, told reporters on Tuesday, “The ethics committee has taken action and determined that the allegations are such serious magnitude that a public hearing and a public vetting is appropriate. I want to defer to the bi-partisan ethics committee judgment on that part.”

Ironically, Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., is challenging Mr. Rangel, an 80 – year old Korean War vet, in the congressional primary. Mr. Rangel beat Mr. Powell’s father in 1970, after Rep. Powell surrendered to ethics charges of his own.

While Mr. Rangel was as tight-lipped about Thursday’s hearing on Monday as he was on Tuesday, he did note to reporters on Monday (including myself) that he was on his way to meet with people at a House office building about something that happened sixty years ago.

“It’s emotionally involved,” he said.

Considering Mr. Rangel has a safe Democrat district one must wonder, though, if these ethics charges have more to do with pushing Mr. Rangel out, so another Democrat can step in. After all, the last thing Democrats want right now is the sound byte about Congressman Rangel’s ethics committee hearing before the mid-term elections. Stay tuned.