August 10th, 2010
04:48 PM ET
8 years ago

Rangel challenges House to kick him out

Washington (CNN) - Veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel apologized on the House floor Tuesday for causing any embarrassment by violating chamber rules, but he insisted he is not corrupt and refused to resign.

In a sometimes rambling speech, the New York Democrat defiantly challenged the House ethics committee to move faster on holding a public hearing on the 13 counts of alleged violations against him.

He also challenged fellow House members of both parties to kick him out if they want to get rid of him.

"If it is the judgment of the people here that I should resign," then the ethics committee should expedite its consideration of the charges against him, Rangel said.

But "I am not going away. I am here."

Rangel blasted what he characterized as a politicized, partisan ethics investigation process.

"Somebody has to do more than wish I go away," he said. "I am not asking for leniency. I'm asking for exposure of the facts."

If you think I'm guilty of violating House rules, then "fire your best shot at getting rid of me through expulsion," said Rangel, a 20-term congressman running for re-election in his Harlem district.

House Republicans and some House Democrats have called for Rangel to resign because of the alleged ethics violations. With another ethics case pending against fellow House Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, Rangel is under pressure to ease the negative publicity of his case during the runup to congressional midterm elections in November.

Rangel acknowledged those sentiments, saying, "Heck, if I was you, I might want me to go away too." However, he made clear that only expulsion by the full House would get him to leave.

"Are you going to say that while there's no evidence that I took a nickel ... that I have to leave here?" he asked. "Do what you have to do."

On July 29, the House ethics committee accused Rangel of 13 violations of House rules involving alleged financial wrongdoing and harming the credibility of Congress.

Among other things, Rangel has been accused of using his influence to solicit donations for a college policy center bearing his name from corporate heads and others with business before the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Rangel was chairman of the committee until he was forced to give up the leadership position this year because of the pending allegations.

Other charges involve alleged income tax and financial disclosure violations, as well as improper use of government mail service and letterhead.

An ethics committee trial of Rangel is still set to be held, most likely in September, barring a settlement between Rangel and the committee members.

Rangel said Tuesday that he wanted the ethics committee to announce a date for the trial hearing, instead of leaving him and the chamber on hold during campaigning for upcoming primary elections and the November midterm vote.

"I have to wait until after my primary to find about when the ethics committee intends to have a hearing," Rangel said of the New York primary vote on September 14. He later quipped: "I'm 80 years old. I don't want to die before the hearing."

Rangel also offered explanations for the ethics charges against him, characterizing them as mistakes and acknowledging violations of House rules but denying they amounted to corruption.

"It's not corrupt," he said of using House letterhead for approaching possible contributors to a university policy center in his name. "It may be stupid. It may be negligent, but it's not corrupt."

Regarding an accusation that he used a rent-controlled apartment as a campaign office, Rangel said he did nothing wrong but was "insensitive to the appearance of being treated differently."

"I plead guilty of not being sensitive," he said.

Rangel also said that he referred problems with tax issues to the ethics committee himself, saying it showed he never intended to hide anything.

Republicans say the cases of Rangel and Waters show that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has failed to live up to her vow to rid the House of corruption.

Ken Spain, the communications director of the National Republican Campaign Committee, said Pelosi's "most ethical Congress in history" had "has turned into a three-ring circus."

However, Rangel blamed partisan politics by Republican members of the ethics committee for the two-year investigation of his case, as well as the lack of a firm date for the trial hearing on his alleged violations.

He also said that the ranking Republican on the ethics subcommittee that would hold the trial hearing had already stated publicly that Rangel is corrupt.

"Isn't this historically the first time that it appears as though partisanship has entered the subcommittee?" Rangel said, later adding: "Who in the heck would want somebody who called you corrupt to be the ranking guy on the subcommittee to judge you?"

An expedited hearing is needed to reveal all the facts, rather than continued delay in hopes that Rangel would run out of money for lawyers or otherwise lose his resolve to fight the charges, he said.

"Don't let this happen to you," he said in advice to newer House members.

"Don't walk away as a convenience with no evidence against you."

He apologized "for any embarrassment I've caused," he said, but insisted he would retain his dignity despite the allegations.

"For God's sake, just don't believe that I don't have feelings, that I don't have pride," Rangel said, later adding: "You're not going to tell me to resign to make you feel comfortable."

Filed under: Charlie Rangel
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Kick the lying old wind-bag out after his hearing. He needs to GO.

    August 10, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. OBS....

    I AGREE WITH HIS IDEA. This is about the only way he will get a speedy trial and why shouldn't he. IF he thinks he is innocent of the charges then he should get a speedy hearing.

    August 10, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. RedNeck_Ted

    Charlie, you are 80 years old, RETIRE!!!!! You can still fight the charges if you want to clear your name, but do you really need to work anymore?
    Do you think a Republican will win your seat in Harlem? DO NOT seek re-election and just retire and enjoy your golden years.

    August 10, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. JES

    Then you need to bring it on.

    It's time for you and the rest of the crooks to get out of our pants pockets and DC.

    Try and make a living like the rest of us and get off of your high and mighty stand.

    You couldn't survie in the real world.

    August 10, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. sara

    He served this country in NOT only a "paid" position, but with his life........give this man his due process!

    August 10, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Micky

    He should be kicked out, he's a jerk.

    August 10, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. the judgment of the people here?

    congress possesses judgement?

    he is hedging his bet and if it looks bad, then he might resign, until it looks certain, Rangle will not do a thing

    Congress you can rebuke him all he wants, until you back it up he will thumb his nose at you

    August 10, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. Son of CSM.Wiggins

    Hilarious call them out ragel lol

    August 10, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. Straightalk

    Charlie, Charlie! You grissled old Democat thief...You have stole enough $$ already to retire on, not even counting your "Golden Parachute" Congressional retirement, (paid for by the poor, dumb, Citizens of the USA.! ) You're just another example of the decay of American values along with all of the other crooks in D.C.

    August 10, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. vegage

    This man is a shame to the Democratic party, he needs to go.

    August 10, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. Victim of GOP Taliban

    You are suppose to have a chance to defend oneself in this country. What he got audited by the IRS? When Bush/Cheney lied about Iraq at the cost of lives and a ton of taxpayer $. Ensign, Cunningham, Vitter, Craig, Foley, Stephens, DeLay, Ney, Libby...who else did I miss? Ney and Cunnigham went to jail btw. Have a nice day!

    August 10, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Baby Boomer

    Nothing against Rep. Rangel but I do think it's time for him to retire. Truth be told, quite a few others too...

    August 10, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. jimmy carter

    Rangle has his democrats on the run. He knows enough on some of them and now is the time to call in some of his marks. They will never convict him of anything no matter how guilty he is and watch Waters fall in the same line. Where are all the news reporters that are suppose to know the answers. Come on gang let us here from you????

    August 10, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Lucas Breen

    This guy served his country honorably in wartime, which is more than people like Gingrich, Cheney, and GW Bush did. He's an up-by-the-bootstraps kind of guy, and he has served his constituents. He deserves his day in Court, rather than being tried in the media and by the RNC.

    RANGEL IS RIGHT in asking why is the Ethics Committee has taken two years to move on this thing, and now wants to bring it up just in time for the general election?

    He hasn't denied any of the allegations, but only challenged whether they amount to "corruption." He paid his back taxes ... but if Congress kicked out every Member who owed back taxes or had disputes with the IRS, there would only be a handful of them left.

    Sarah Palin was up to her eyeballs in abusing the governor's office, and the GOP nominated her for VP. Newt Gingrich did these things, and he's running for President. However, somehow, they thing Rangel should be forced out of office.

    August 10, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. independent

    This may be an example of why we need term limits.

    August 10, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. Riley

    Kick him OUT and save the taxpayers money! HE"S CORRUPT!

    August 10, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  17. Peter s

    Try Rangel and Maxine Waters as fast as possible and if found guilty treat them as any other criminal and lock them up!!

    August 10, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  18. Mikey

    That's probably exactly what they are going to do.

    August 10, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  19. Bill, Bloomington Il

    I noticed lucas forgot Obama and Clinton just to name a few.

    August 10, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  20. Renee' McDuffie

    You are so correct. It is strange that this is only happening when the country has a black president. Here we go again with this racist bs.

    August 10, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  21. Crooks R Congress

    Rangel shouldn't have done the crime if he doesn't want to do the time. This guy is the worst crook to ever hide behind Piglosi's skirts. I don't care who ever did what ever before, this dense idiot has 13 ethics charges to his name.

    August 10, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  22. Indiana Voter

    When Democrats campaigned on cleaning up the culture of corruption in Washington DC, I bet they didn't think that it would bring mostly Democrats to the forefront of the corruption. You can't have it both ways. You either get rid of both corrupt Democrats and Republicans or none at all. When Democrats only kick out members of the opposite party, it makes them look foolish and disingenuous when trying to defend the actions of Rangel and Waters.

    August 10, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  23. Naqib

    He's a Dem... of course he would never resign... Never Admit It... that's the Dem way... if all else fails... Scream Racism.... same course of action will work for Waters

    August 10, 2010 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  24. hypocricnnation

    You're Innocent Until Proven Guilty In The Court Of Law, Or In The Chambers Of Congress. However In The Court Of Public (Media Chatter) Opinion, I Dare Say That The Same Rules Apply!

    August 10, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  25. Son of CSM.Wiggins

    Republicans have no problem trying to lynch a real war hero" (unlike mcain) who is just a hero because he got caught i mean POW" when they are a dem. But good ol nasty behind close doors John Ensign is still sitting back chilling after he paid his mistress lol in payments just low enough not to get taxed lmao hilarious

    August 10, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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