Monday, November 15, 2010
Image by RepRangel via FlickrRangel Walks Out of Ethics Hearing
Rep. Charles Rangel walked out of his House ethics trial this morning, claiming he needed more time to hire an attorney to represent him. The Harlem Congressman's surprising move came after the committee turned down his request for more time to replace an attorney who had withdrawn from the case. Rangel is facing 13 charges of ethics violation.
Saying that he has not had time secure legal counsel and that House rules prevent him from raising the money for a defense fund before the deadline that the ethics committee has given him, Rangel left the hearing room this morning less than an hour after it had begun. Rangel said he didn't have the money to hire new counsel after spending $2 million preparing his defense with his previous attorneys. The attorneys withdrew after clashes with Rangel over defense tactics, including his decision to deliver a 30-minute speech on the House floor against their advice.
The House trial on corruption charges is the first such event since 2002. Four Democrats and four Republicans were scheduled to hear testimony.
"You tell me all things that I could do, but you're not going to give me time to do it. I think no one can say that that's not the way this ends up,"he said. "Yes, I can do these things, but you have to conclude this now, and the next day" he said, jabbing a finger down at the table for emphasis. "And my reputation, 50 years of public service has to suffer because this committee has concluded you must conclude this matter before this congress ends. And all I'm asking for is time to get counsel...and you're saying now, I think, that you denied it before and you're denying it now."
A short time later he said, "I object to the proceeding, and with all due respect, since I don't have counsel to advise me, I'm going to have to excuse myself from these proceedings. I have no idea what [counsel for the committee] has put together, over two years, that was given to me last week, and I just hoipe that the history of this committee, in terms of fairness, would be judged for what it is."