Video: Rangel: 'I look forward to airing this thing'

  1. Closed captioning of: Rangel: 'I look forward to airing this thing'

    >> because they say that the best thing in my best interest is not to make any comment but i noticed that this morning there were a crew of television people. when i came to the office there was was a crew of television people. and i assume with the larger turnout, i would expect that they would be with me and i don't know how to say "no comment". it's a very difficult thing for me to turn away reporters who are doing their jobs. close to two years, i have been saying, "would you please wait until the ethics committee completes its investigation." it has been awkward for me and it has been awkward for you. they have completed their investigation. and i'm so pleased that they have and they reported this to the ethics committee . this is going to be done before my primary leeks, before the general election and the light of a public explanation of what they have found as a result of the investigation will be made public. and so, there's very little that i can say because the realm of confidentiality means that on monday, i will no longer be saying wait until they complete their investigation. and i called this morning and i had a very good conversation with luke russert and apologized to him for the way i treated him on television, but it's awkward, when you can't give answers to questions and sometimes reporters feel compelled to go beyond what i can do. and so, i'm restricted to a note. i think everyone should be happy that i have not gone beyond that. someone said why have a press conference if you're not going to answer any questions? i said, well if they knew that and they still are taking their time to go where i live and to follow me around in the district, maybe this time, i would be able to say that i met with you, i told you what i've had to say and i do have congressional work to do and i can tell you or tell those people that will be with me that comes thursday, we all will be able to move forward together. so, if there are any questions in connection with what i just said, i will be glad to take them.

    >> congressman, have you spoken with speaker pelosi about this and how do you respond to -- not about the allegations but about how [ inaudible ] -- especially in tight races around the country?

    >> well, at this point in time, i have to really consider the process that i'm going through and respect it. anything i say that would impact on the people that i have no control over, i cannot make any comment that would make any sense at all.

    >> have you spoken to speaker pelosi about this matter?

    >> i cannot go beyond this statement because i'm here to tell you something that's awkward and that is the investigation is over. comes thursday, we will be talking about what? the allegations. as most of you know, all of the allegations that you see in the newspaper, the allegations that congressman charles rangel referred to the ethics committee for what purpose? to investigate. and it's kind of awkward to explain that to your kids and grandkids what you see in the front page , but hey, i'm not kitchen and i'm not walking out.

    >> congressman, when you stepped down as chair of the ways and means in march, you said you don't want to be a distraction to other democrats in an election year [ inaudible ] pose potential problems for them?

    >> first of all, i'm taking this one step at a time. i don't ever remember using the word trial. what i'm dealing with today and i will be glad to see what happens on thursday. you know, i'm not the one that called this and so hey --

    >> do you not consider this a trial what is going to happen on thursday?

    >> now you're dealing with words. i want you to be dealing with facts. you know the allegations, you will be able to get the report. i want you to analyze it. and i'm not evening asking you to be fair.

    >> congressman, you have always been a xraerp, a fighter, a fighter for what you belitsched to be right. are you looking forward to this battle?

    >> no, hell no. nobody in his right mind be looking forward to something like this public. i knew one thing, when somebody is elected to public office there is a higher level of honesty, openness and transparency on him rather than just an ordinary citizen. before this, i want people to know who charlie rangel is and was and wanted to be. yes?

    >> what kind of response have you gotten from other democrats? have you heard from andrew cuomo , people just supporting you and cheering you on or what kind of response?

    >> i really don't see how any comment like that could be very useful in the purpose that i asked you to come here. i mean, that's -- that's subjective stuff. i'm here to talk some facts and i'm here to tell you how relieved i am that i don't have to tell you what you should be so annoyed in hearing, will you please wait until the investigation is over? it is over. comes thursday, hey. yes, sir.

    >> how have you been sharing this with your family you talked about having to explain headlines and things, talk about the difficult tu and explaining what is going on --

    >> i'm glad you raised the question, because of course i'm not going to explain any personal relationship i have with my family, my friends, my constituents. it is a coming together it has been a rather moving but difficult experience.

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/23/2010 2:04:22 PM ET 2010-07-23T18:04:22

Rep. Charles Rangel, who has spent half of his 80 years as a member of Congress, says he looks forward to fighting ethics charges. Other Democrats won't be so pleased.

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On Friday, the lawmaker called a news conference but didn't reveal much — he asked for patience until the official charges are revealed.

"There's very little I can say," he said. "I cannot go beyond this statement."

He said he's eager to be able to tell voters the results of the investigation, "so that they would know who Charlie Rangel really is."

The ethics trial sought by the New York congressman and former Ways and Means Committee chairman will coincide with campaign season. Democrats will have to defend their party's conduct. If enough of them lose, the party could cede control of the House after November's election.

Republicans are already going negative, reminding voters that Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to "drain the swamp" of ethical misdeeds in Congress.

Rangel had a choice.

His lawyer had been negotiating with the House ethics committee to settle his case. But to end it, Rangel would have had to accept the allegations. Rangel had been willing to accept some, but that didn't satisfy the committee, according to a person familiar with the talks but not authorized to be quoted by name.

"I look forward to airing this thing," Rangel, who is tied for fourth in House seniority, told reporters Thursday, insisting the allegations against him have no substance.

"I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media," he said.

It was disclosed Thursday that Rangel is being charged with multiple ethics violations. The ethics committee won't reveal the specific charges until next Thursday at a public meeting. However, several persons familiar with the allegations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly, said some of the charges against Rangel, who has spent 40 years in Congress, were related to:

  • Rangel's use of official stationery to raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.
  • His use of four rent-subsidized apartment units in New York City. The city's rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to one's primary residence. One had been used as a campaign office, raising a separate question of whether the rent break was an improper gift.
  • Rangel's failure to report income as required on his annual financial disclosure forms. The committee had investigated his failure to report income from the lawmaker's rental unit at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. Rangel also belatedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment assets.

Sanctions can range from a damaging committee report to censure by the House and even expulsion, a punishment reserved for only the most egregious violations.

Ironically, Rangel raised money for scores of Democratic candidates before his ethics problems surfaced. Now, many Democrats wouldn't touch a contribution from Rangel's leadership fund and might pressure him to accept the charges or even get out of his re-election race.

Rangel announced a bid for his 21st term recently, shortly before his 80th birthday. To many in his famed Harlem district of New York City, Rangel is the only congressman they've known. Older constituents remember him as a Korean War hero with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

"If you ask me how I feel about it, I feel extraordinarily good that my supporters over 40 years will be able to evaluate what they have come up with and I don't have any fear at all politically or personally what they come up with," he said.

But Rangel engaged in a testy exchange Thursday with reporters on Capitol Hill, characterizing some inquiries as “dumb.”

Asked by NBC News’ Luke Russert if he was worried about losing his job, Rangel responded: “Well, you’re young, I guess you do need to make a name for yourself."

"Basically, you know, it’s a dumb question and I’m not going to respond. … It doesn’t really sound like NBC asking these dumb questions. It just shows what happened to a channel that did have some respect," he said.

On Friday, Rangel said he called Russert to apologize for the incident.

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said the action taken against Rangel "would indicate that the independent, bipartisan ethics committee process is moving forward."

The last time a Rangel ethics case moved forward, the ethics committee concluded earlier this year that the lawmaker violated House rules on two trips to Caribbean conferences. The committee said Rangel should have known that corporate money paid for the trips.

Rangel, still chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee at the time, initially said he wouldn't step down from his post. After a closed-door meeting with Pelosi while reporters waited outside, Rangel changed his mind. He stepped aside from a chairmanship he may never get back, because of concerns that staying in the position would hurt other Democrats.

This time, he decided to fight on.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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