Rangel says his ethics trial will show that he's fit to remain in office

At a hastily called news conference in New York City, Rangel (D-N.Y.) said he is “pleased” his ethics charges will be aired in public so that people can hear his side of the story. 

”I am so pleased that they have and reported this to the ethics committee. This is going to be done before my primary election, before my general election,” he said.

“I want to make sure that before this election people know who Charlie Rangel is, was and is proud to be.”

The veteran lawmaker’s comments came a day after the House ethics committee officially charged Rangel with ethics violations following a two-year investigation into various allegations and established a separate bipartisan panel to try him. The first meeting of the panel will take place on July 29.

Rangel revealed little regarding the specifics of the trial, but said, ”Come Thursday, we all will be able to move forward together.”

The Harlem lawmaker said he called the press conference to address curiosity among the press. 

“Well my lawyers are going to kill me because they say the best thing in my self-interest is to not make any comment, but I notice that there was a crew of television people when I came to the office,” he said. “I don’t know how to say ‘no comment,’ it’s a very difficult thing for me to turn away reporters.”

Rangel faces charges and a competitive primary set for Sept. 14. His challengers include State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of former Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., whom Rangel defeated to take his seat. 

But Rangel’s trial might begin before his primary election because of House ethics committee rules.

He also apologized for his exchange with NBC reporter Luke Russert. Asked by Russert if he would be able to keep his job, Rangel replied that it was a “dumb question,” said it hurt the network’s credibility and accused Russert of asking it for personal gain. 

“I had a very good conversation with Luke Russert [this morning] and apologized for the way I treated him on television,” he said. 

Despite the fact that he said he was “pleased” the trial would begin, Rangel said he has not enjoyed the experience, explaining that it has been “awkward” telling his children and grandchildren about it. 

“No, hell no, no one in his right mind would be looking forward to this,” he said.