Rangel Ethics Panel Begins Trial Phase; Potential Deal In Limbo
The ethics committee meeting is now in full swing, and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), the lead Democrat on the investigation panel, has laid out the four broad areas and thirteen specific charges against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). On all thirteen charges, Green announced that the subcommittee had “substantial reason” to believe that Rangel had committed violations. (Only on an additional matter related to the parking of Rep. Rangel’s car did the subcommittee make no recommendation.)
Various news outlets are reporting that Rangel’s defense team has struck a deal with the staff of the ethics subcommittee, but so far the trial is proceeding as if that is not the case. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) stated emphatically at the outset that the opportunity to reach a settlement has past and that “we are now in the trial phase.”
Even if the two staffs have hammered out an agreement, it still must be approved by the bipartisan 10-member panel of congressmen. With the committee evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, at least one Republican would have to support the settlement for it to pass. Despite the calls from both sides of the aisle during today’s hearing to handle Rangel’s case in a “nonpartisan” manner, it is possible that the political implications of an open trial in September are presenting Republicans on the subcommittee with an incentive to block any settlement from being reached.