John Bresnahan of Politico reports today:
Rep. Charles Rangel is heading into a Nov. 15 ethics trial with no lawyers, little money and a risky strategy that may turn his trial into a political showdown, rather than a legal face-off, according to sources close to the New York Democrat.
It’s not even clear if the ethics trial will start on time. Rangel has asked for a delay in the proceedings, but the ethics committee – with members off running their own reelection campaigns – has not publicly ruled on the request.
The article includes speculation that Democrats might go easy on Rangel because they will have already have lost their majority. Indeed, with the latest projections that they will lose 50 or more seats on Tuesday, Democrats may be so shell shocked that the Rangel trial may be the last thing on their minds. The path of least resistance may be to simply let the matter slide to the next Congress.
It is now Republicans who are on the spot. If they just acquiesce to more delay, it will look like business as usual on Capitol Hill. After accusing Pelosi of failing to “drain the swamp” during the campaign, Republicans now have the responsibility to make sure Rangel is tried and sanctioned. In the present climate, anything less than expulsion will look like a slap on the wrist.
Rangel “sees this as a political, not a legal, fight at this point,” said a source close to the case, signaling the 80-year-old Korean War vet may present his own defense before the ethics committee.
It is not a political fight to NLPC. We invested significant time and resources in exposing Rangel’s tax evasion that led to more far-reaching scrutiny of Rangel’s finances. It is important that this matter be properly adjudicated.
We also exposed Rangel’s acceptance of corporate-funded Caribbean junkets. Of course, we welcomed the Ethics Committee admonishment that cost Rangel his Ways and Means chairmanship, but more serious charges are still pending.
Timeline of Charles Rangel Ethics Scandal
Flaherty: Rangel Had to Know of Junket’s Corporate Sponsorship (Fox News Channel video)
Flaherty: Rangel Dirty Even After Coming Clean (CNN/Anderson Cooper video)
Flaherty: Rangel is ‘Serial Offender’ (CNN/Anderson Cooper video)