Charles Rangel walked out of his Congressional ethics hearing yesterday. This means he is putting up no defense against 13 ethics charges, including failure to properly report taxable income from his rental property in the Dominican Republic.
I listened to a replay of the hearing on the way home from Mason City last night on the satellite radio, and the dapper Mr. Rangel put on a bizarre and sad performance. He was apparently hoping to get more time to find a new lawyer after his prior law firm withdrew from his defense in September. His emotional, self-pitying yet egotistical monlogue never explained why the old law firm chose to run out on one of the more powerful Congresscritters, but listening to him made me suspect he might have been a difficult client.
California Democrat Zoe Lofgren, committee chair, dryly recited the history of the two year-old case and the committee's communication with Mr. Rangel, implying that his failure to secure counsel by now was Mr. Rangel's own fault.
It's unclear whether a lawyer would make any difference anyway. There's no way they would expel Mr. Rangel, so the only question is whether they will slap him on the wrist with the flat side of the ruler or the edge. Yet to hear Mr. Rangel, you'd think he was going to get a dreadful punishment, like having to buy his suits off the rack.
UPDATE: Subcommittee finds Rangel guilty on 11 charges, including the tax omissions. The case proceeds to the full Ethics committee for the ritual wrist-slap.
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