On the eve of his House ethics trial, Congressman Charles Rangel said in an exclusive interview with NY1 on Sunday that he is "confident" that his name will be cleared. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
In a rare House ethics trail set to start Monday morning, Congressman Charles Rangel will be defending himself against 13 alleged ethics violations, and he is going to do it on his own.
Rangel split with his lawyers after paying them more than $1.4 million, after the money seems to have dried up.
"I already notified them that as a result of them taking so long that I have exhausted my abilities to raise the funds which are necessary to move on," said Rangel. "All I do is just ask for the time to be heard and I am confident that at the end of the day my constituents' faith in me, as demonstrated by their overwhelming vote, will be well-founded."
Rangel appeared at Mother AME Zion Church on Sunday, to speak at a memorial service for civil rights icon Dr. Dorothy Height, who died in April. He expressed uncertainty about how Monday's proceedings would play out.
"I don’t even know whether they're going to move forward tomorrow. We'll have to see what we see," he said.
The Harlem lawmaker stands accused of 13 violations of House rules. He has come under fire for failing to pay taxes on income from a vacation home, his use of multiple rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem and his efforts to raise money for a City College center in his name.
The allegations forced Rangel to step down from his powerful position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee -- a dramatic fall for a man once counted among the most influential politicians in the country.
"Many of the allegations against him, the facts just simply support that he violated House rules, and it's really hard for me to imagine what he could go in and say in defense of some of these charges," said Melanie Sloan of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The last House ethics trial in 2002 led to the expulsion of Ohio Congressman James Traficant. Rangel is not expected to be ousted.
"I think the most likely outcome here is that he will be censured. And given that state of affairs, that he's going to just be censured, why go through all this?" said Sloan. "Mr. Rangel should have taken his lumps a year-and-a-half ago and admitted wrongdoing and taken the committee's letter and we could have all put this whole process behind us.
Rangel's troubles in Washington have not shaken his popularity back home. He was re-elected to Congress in a landslide earlier this month.
The trial is expected to last a week, and if the Ethics committee decides to punish him, the recommended sanctions go before the full House of Representatives for a vote.