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Charlie Rangel's War: Deal Axed At 11th Hour

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem)

Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel (file)

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Deal, no deal … deal, no deal.

The Charles Rangel saga gave Washington whiplash on Thursday, CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reports.

The 20-term congressman is trying to save his name and legacy, while avoiding a messy, public trial for ethics violations.

CBS 2 HD spent much of Thursday monitoring the back-and-forth.

Rangel isn’t the only one with whiplash because within minutes of congressional Republicans rejecting his tentative deal, lawyers for the House Ethics Committee were giving it a second look.

This can mean only one thing: a potential compromise may be in the offing.

For both Democrats and Republicans, the case of Congressman Rangel presents a sticky wicket: On the one hand there are 13 allegations of wrongdoing; on the other, there was Rangel’s testimony that many of the things he was accused of were for the public good — like establishment of a school for public service at CUNY.

“We live in a time when public skepticism about the institutions in our country is very high,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).

But even for Democrats, totally covering up Congressman Rangel’s tracks would have been impossible. What they wanted was a deal, for Rangel to admit wrongdoing to some things to avoid a public trial right before the election. They — the Democrats — thought they had it.

“We’ve presented by the investigative subcommittee with 13 very serious allegations relating to Mr. Rangel’s conduct,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

But 13 was too big a number to let Congressman Rangel admit to two or three and even though staff lawyers had hammered about an agreement with Rangel’s lawyers, the Republican congressmen said no way. They wanted Rangel to cop to all 13, which they knew he wouldn’t, or face a public trial during election season, which would certainly help them try to wrench control of the House back to their party.

“We also have an obligation to the American people to protect the integrity and credibility of the House and present evidence supporting each of the 13 counts,” McCaul said.

Rangel, who has had a legendary 40-year career representing Harlem — from going after drug users to creating an empowerment zone responsible for much of Harlem’s current rejuvenation, appeared at the end of the day a bit befuddled by all that happened.

“The question about corruption and dishonesty has never been on the table. That’s the good news,” Rangel said.

Deal, no deal … deal, no deal.

The Charles Rangel saga gave Washington whiplash on Thursday.

The 20-term congressman is trying to save his name and legacy, while avoiding a messy, public trial for ethics violations.

CBS 2 HD spent much of Thursday monitoring the back-and-forth.

Rangel isn’t the only one with whiplash because within minutes of congressional Republicans rejecting his tentative deal, lawyers for the House Ethics Committee were giving it a second look.

This can mean only one thing: a potential compromise may be in the offing.

For both Democrats and Republicans, the case of Congressman Rangel presents a sticky wicket: On the one hand there are 13 allegations of wrongdoing; on the other, there was Rangel’s testimony that many of the things he was accused of were for the public good — like establishment of a school for public service at CUNY.

“We live in a time when public skepticism about the institutions in our country is very high,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.).

But even for Democrats, totally covering up Congressman Rangel’s tracks would have been impossible. What they wanted was a deal, for Rangel to admit wrongdoing to some things to avoid a public trial right before the election. They — the Democrats — thought they had it.

“We’ve presented by the investigative subcommittee with 13 very serious allegations relating to Mr. Rangel’s conduct,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

But 13 was too big a number to let Congressman Rangel admit to two or three and even though staff lawyers had hammered about an agreement with Rangel’s lawyers, the Republicanmag glass 10x10 Charlie Rangel's War: Deal Axed At 11th Hour congressmen said no way. They wanted Rangel to cop to all 13, which they knew he wouldn’t, or face a public trial during election season, which would certainly help them try to wrench control of the House back to their party.

“We also have an obligation to the American people to protect the integrity and credibility of the House and present evidence supporting each of the 13 counts,” McCaul said.

Rangel, who has had a legendary 40-year career representing Harlem — from going after drug users to creating an empowerment zone responsible for much of Harlem’s current rejuvenation, appeared at the end of the day a bit befuddled by all that happened.

“The question about corruption and dishonesty has never been on the table. That’s the good news,” Rangel said.

It could take days or weeks to work this out. Congressmag glass 10x10 Charlie Rangel's War: Deal Axed At 11th Hour goes on summer recess Friday and a trial, if there is one, would probably be held in September. That’s plenty of time to work out a deal of some sort.

The committee is still trying to come up with a deal to avoid a public trial, but already Democratic leaders are distancing themselves.

“The chips will have to fall where they may politically,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

“It’s a very, very rough period for me and my family but we all, including my community, will get by this and, ah, that’s all,” Rangel said.

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