Video: Pelosi playing defense on Massa?

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    >> chuck was on urban dictionary earlier.

    >> excuse me.

    >> i want my innocence back.

    >> i'm putting a kibosh on all of this. stop. stop. stop.

    >> let's talk about the importance of this massa story. "the washington post " reporting that nancy pelosi may have known about this basket in october. the more things change , the more they stay the same. how much does this sound like the mark foley story in the summer of 2006 .

    >> with foley , they knew a month earlier than they said they did what did she know at the time? was she told by a staffer, hey, i've been -- i've had suspicions, didn't know what to to. i'm still sort of not sure and now i'm telling you, or was it something more definitive? that's what we don't know. as how much of the details at that time did speaker pe eer pelosi know? the other thing that didn't surface in the foley situation, is there physical evidence like text messages that massa speculated might be out there, or with foley it was those ims. will we see those pop up? that makes a timeline even easier to put together. that i think all of this right now is still sort of feeling like congressional aides doing a little cia with themselves a little bit.

    >> and you heard nance ooy pelosi last night on " charlie rose " saying he was sick. well, if he did harass staff members, he was sick. it sounds like she may be starting her own defense as to why she didn't act more quickly against a guy that was abusing staff members.

    >> the only excuse massa hasn't come up with. you're almost waiting for him to say i was on some medication and it made me do weird things. you are almost waiting for him th that to be his excuse.

    >> an historic concern, getting 216 votes because of deaths and retirements in the house. how far away is she from it?

    >> closer today than they were last night. rahm emanuel spent the dinner time hours in the speaker's office with the house democratic leadership. and i was told by folks in that meeting, they checked a lot of boxes, but one big one they haven't hit on yet is abortion. and that is still tying up approximately a dozen votes. maybe fewer, but you're looking at a handful of votes. the difference between getting the 216 and not getting them.

    >> but the white house thinks they'll get the 216?

    >> they think they've got it house leadership still looking for a procedural way. they want to pass the senate bill and have it become law without the fixes. so there is still a procedural way, so they will pass the senate bill so it actually will become law until the senate does their thing. you can understand why the house democrats want that. they don't want to be on record until putting into law the bill and ben nelson deal.

    >> chuck, before we leave, let's talk about israel . what is the very latest? is the white house angry with israel this morning for what they did yesterday?

    >> well, angry -- they are a little angry, but at the same time, what they are really upset about at israel is the fact that they thought they had really go ahead news to announce yesterday. george mitchell got egypt to announce indirect talks that they would help with the shuttle d diplomacy, there was going to be a schedule of talks indirect. not exactly, you know, face to face , but still some progress. that's what they wanted to announce when vice president biden was over there. oh, we're sorry. the timing is bad. they didn't apologize for doing it. they just apologized for the timing, which is, you know -- it was -- it's sort of an extra. to me, that was an extra slap in the face .

    >> oh, boy.

    >> all right, chuck. thank you very much. you can catch chuck todd on msnbc.

    >> by the way, i'm a scuba diver .

    >> that's great, chuck. i don't even know what that is. i don't know if i'm a scuba diver . now i'm afraid.

    >> you just told us more than we needed to know. we'll see you on "the daily rundown." madeleine albright on this morning. send her our best. and still to come,

updated 3/11/2010 10:42:59 AM ET 2010-03-11T15:42:59

One is a former Democratic freshman little known outside his Corning-Olean-Pittsford, N.Y., district. The other, a 20-term Democratic kingpin from Harlem, is widely known to New Yorkers and anyone following tax legislation.

But now, Republicans — looking for any opening to regain control of the House — are portraying newly resigned first-termer Eric Massa and veteran Charles Rangel as dual symbols of Democratic ethical misconduct.

There's no connection between Rangel's violation of House gift rules — as reported by the House ethics committee — and the ethics panel's abruptly ended investigation of Massa's alleged harassment of male staff members.

But there is this link: Both cases represent potential albatrosses for Democrats in the fall elections, and the party can only hope that the problems fade away.

The House Democratic campaign chairman, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, confirmed Wednesday that the House ethics committee has ended its investigation of Massa because his resignation this week removed him from the panel's jurisdiction.

But Van Hollen quickly acknowledged in an ABC News webcast that Massa staff members who complained of harassment can still pursue the case in other forums. And House Republican leader John Boehner said there were many questions in the case that still must be answered.

Translation: The potential political damage is far from over.

Rangel's problems also continue. He stepped aside this month as chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee after the ethics committee reported that the New York City Democrat ran afoul of gift rules by accepting corporate money to attend two Caribbean conferences.

Still under way is a more serious ethics investigation of Rangel's fundraising and finances, including allegations that he misused his official position to raise money for a center named after him at City College of New York. The ethics committee also is looking at his belated reporting of hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets.

Rangel acknowledged he became a political liability when he stepped aside from his chairmanship. He said staying on would have prolonged distractions for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats.

"It's not fair to her and it's not fair to the many freshmen and those who have close districts, that instead of getting their message out, (reporters and constituents) are asking about me," Rangel said.

If Massa and Rangel were the Democrats' only problems, the party might be able to control the damage more easily.

But they also must contend with investigations and misconduct of others in the party:

  • Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is charged with corruption related to his efforts to fill President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.
  • New York Gov. David Paterson faces two misconduct investigations and increasing calls for him to quit.
  • Paterson's predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in a prostitution scandal.
Image: Massa
David Duprey  /  AP
Republicans are portraying newly resigned first-termer Eric Massa a symbol of Democratic ethical misconduct.

Republicans are mindful that Republican ethical misconduct was one reason the GOP lost control of the House in the 2006 elections. The party was badly damaged by the case of then-Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida Republican who sent sexually suggestive messages to former male pages.

That was bad enough, but the real damage came when it was learned that Republican leaders knew of the misconduct and took no action.

A Democratic leadership aide, who was not authorized to be quoted, said Wednesday night that the speaker's office was told of Massa's use of strong language and other problems in his office in October — but nothing about harassment.

When the alleged harassment was brought to the leadership's attention last month, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer demanded that the ethics committee be contacted within two days and promised to make the report himself if that didn't happen.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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