Rep. Charles Rangel’s Ethics Trial – Highlights – Day 1

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[5:30 PM]

Here’s our final highlight of the day when the committee decides to take behind closed doors their deliberations on whether or not Rep. Rangel is guilty of any of the 13 charges.

[12:38 PM]

Before Rep. Rangel stormed out, he indicted the process for about 12 minutes. We now have the excerpted video clip from The UpTake. Live coverage starts back up at 1PM ET at Sunlight Live. Paul Blumenthal gives a recap of the morning:

The committee trial opened at 9AM this morning and began with opening statements. This quickly ran aground as Charlie Rangel used his opening statement to assail the committee for denying him his right to counsel, this despite Rangel’s retention of counsel up to the date that the trial was announced.

Rangel then proceeded to tell the committee that he would not stand trial without counsel, but refused to directly ask the committee to postpone the hearings. After Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a committee member, recommended that the committee consider whether to postpone the matter, the committee went into closed session and Rangel stated his intention on walking out as he did not find it fair that he did not have counsel.

After returning from the closed session the committee announced that it would move forwards with the trial without Rangel. They then heard testimony from the Committee Counsel, who explained the various charges and used Rangel’s rambling speech from the floor of the House where he admitted to guilt on certain charges. The committee examined the counsel.

After each committee member asked questions, the committee agreed to go into closed session to decide on a motion of whether the facts presented before the committee are, in fact, correct and factual. That is where we stand now. The committee stated that they will be back by 1 PM at the earliest.

[11:47 AM]

TPM has released video of Rep. Rangel “talking” with reporters after walking out of the committee room. You might have to crank the volume to hear anything useful. More evidence of the press feeding frenzy than anything else but there is one important takeaway per our Senior Writer, Paul Blumenthal:

So, Charlie Rangel is now hiding behind the ethics laws that he is accused of breaking in his defense for walking out of his own ethics trial.

[You] see Rangel tell a reporter that ethics rules prevent him from retaining counsel pro bono. Rangel goes on to state that there are a number of trial lawyers who would love to represent him but can’t defend him due to ethics laws that would count pro bono representation as a gift under the very gift rule statute that Rangel is accused of breaking.

Still confused? Jump on over to our live coverage at Sunlight Live and ask a question!

[11:04 AM]

Rep. Charles Rangel’s ethics trial got off to an interesting start today when Rep. Rangel walked out on the House Ethics Committee. From The UpTake:

Rangel said he did not have legal representation and was declining to participate in the hearing. The committee considered delaying the hearing to allow Rangel to get legal representation.

The committee went behind closed doors and decided to continue on without Rep. Rangel. They listed several occasions, both formally and informally, where the committee advised Rep. Rangel on how to both pay and retain legal counsel. The expectation today was that Rep. Rangel, a former Assistant US Attorney himself, would provide his own defense.

Continuing live coverage and video at Sunlight Live.

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