The Washington Times - December 3, 2010, 12:19AM

*Updated with full transcript


Following a vote to censure Rep.Charles Rangel on Thursday night, the congressman spoke to reporters and lashed out when I asked if an average American citizen would be punished more severely if the individual committed similar violations. Real Clear Politics has another video here.


 PICKET:There’s been criticism from the floor tonight essentially comparing you to the average American citizen, who, if they went through similar circumstances such as yourself that they may be punished in a worse way. What’s your response to that?

REP. RANGEL: What paper are you from?

PICKET: Pardon?

REP. RANGEL: What paper are you from?

PICKET: Washington Times, sir.

REP. RANGEL: What’s the question? Can you kind of make the question a little more exact? This criticism came from the floor? The floor can’t speak. Who said what?

PICKET: Well basically….

REP. RANGEL: What is the question?

PICKET: I’m just asking what is your response to criticism that if the average American citizen. Someone who is not a congressman

REP. RANGEL:Please, I’m not a psychiatrist. I don’t deal in average American citizens. Citizens are diverse. They are broad. I don’t know what is average, and so I don’t really agree… I’ll come back to you when you think of a good question.

“I am at rest with myself, and I am convinced that when history of this has been written that people will recognize that the vote for censure was a very, very, very political vote,” Congressman Rangel told reporters.

After Mr. Rangel failed to win over House members to vote in favor of reducing his punishment to a reprimand, the New York Democrat was censured by the House overwhelmingly 333 to 79. Prior the vote to censure Mr. Rangel, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Missouri Democrat, told me “In spite of what has been sent out to the public about special privileges, I think the spotlight of attention is much more on members of Congress than average citizens. Things that average citizens could get by with we would get in trouble with. I don’t know of any prosecutor who would back away from indicting a member of Congress, because that person is a member of Congress. It just does not happen.”

Listen to Rep. Cleaver here

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat and chairman of the ethics committee, told the House members that the censure her committee recommended was consistent with her Party’s pledge to run “the most honest, most open, most ethical Congress in history.”

In a statemement on Thursday night, Speaker Designate John Boehner, Ohio Republican, reacted to Rep. Rangel’s censure:

“The American people have every right to expect the highest standards of ethical conduct from their elected leaders. This is a sad day for the House of Representatives, and a reminder of the work we have ahead of us to repair the shattered bonds of trust between the people and their government. Moving forward, it is critical that the Ethics Committee resolve these issues fairly and expeditiously on behalf of the members, this institution, and most importantly, the American people.”