Harlem Democrat Lays It All Out There In 37-Minute Speech

WASHINGTON (CBS 2/1010 WINS) — Congressman Charles Rangel took to the floor of the House on Tuesday and delivered an extraordinary and emotional speech.

CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports he charged that Republican members of the ethics committee are demanding he face a public trial in the hope it helps them win seats in November.

“Think. Think, isn’t this historically the first time that it appears as though partisanship has entered the ethics committee,” Rep. Rangel said.

Furious that Republican members of the House Ethics Committee nixed a deal to allow him to avoid a public trial, Rep. Rangel fired so many salvos at fellow House members Tuesday that some may have thought he was in training to fight in Iraq.

“Hey, if I was you I may want me to go away, too. I am not going away. I am here,” he said to applause.

The 80-year-old, 20-term Harlem Democrat spoke on the House floor for 37 minutes, without notes, pouring his heart out about the 13 ethics charges he faces, and his fury at fellow Democrats who want him to quit because they fear a public trial will move some seats into the Republican column.

“If I can’t get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot in getting rid of me through expulsion,” Rep. Rangel said.

Rangel was at times combative, saying that since the Republicans won’t agree to a plea deal he wants an expedited trial.

“I’m not asking for leniency. I’m asking for exposure of the facts,” he said. “Don’t leave me swinging in the wind until November.”

And at times he was emotional. At one point he called himself, “your colleague and friend.” At another point it was Charlie Rangel who raised a ton of money to help Democrats take control of the House.

“I say what are you going to do to me? Suppose I do get emotional, and think about my life — the beginning and the end. Are you going to expel me from this body? Are you going to say while there is no evidence that I took a nickel, asked for a nickel, no sworn testimony, no conflict, that I have to leave here?” Rangel said.

Rangel did admit to some mistakes. He said he should not have used house stationery to raise money for a school at City College. But, he said, “It’s not corrupt; maybe stupid.”

The ethics committee will meet Sept. 13. The trial will come later.

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