Rep. James Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said Monday that he hopes embattled Rep. Charles Rangel cuts a deal with the ethics committee to avoid his impending trial.
Clyburn (S.C.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) that Rangel helped establish, said that the New York Democratic congressman still has the chance to reach a settlement with the ethics panel that is planning to try him on 13 alleged violations of House rules in September.
"Well, I think that Charlie Rangel made it very clear in all the discussions I had with him ... [and those before the CBC] ... that he was willing to stipulate to all the sworn testimony that were made regarding these 13 allegations," he told MSNBC. "Once a stipulation is made like that, the groundwork is there for a resolution to be had short of any kind of trial. So I would hope that we can get this done."
Clyburn's comments come as the trial is expected to go forth in September, setting the stage for a public airing of Rangel's alleged misdeeds one month before House Democrats must defend their majority at the polls.
Many top Democrats have privately hoped that Rangel would reach a settlement with the ethics committee, thereby avoiding the potentially embarrassing trial. But Rangel did not reach a deal before the adjudicatory subcommittee announced the allegations
against him during a public hearing on Thursday.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a member of the subcommittee, said at the hearing that “we are now in the trial phase" and that Rangel had his opportunity to reach a deal during the panel’s investigation.
The former Ways and Means Committee chairman is accused of improperly using his office to solicit donations for a school of public policy in his name at the City College of New York; of using a rent-stabilized apartment in Harlem for his campaign office; of failing to report more than $600,000 on his financial disclosure report; and of failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.
Members of the CBC have been among Rangel's strongest supporters. Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), who is chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, defended
Rangel before reporters and said he had done nothing intentionally wrong. Some vulnerable Democrats have called for Rangel's resignation.
Asked if he thought President Barack Obama meant to call for Rangel's resignation when he said this weekend that he should end his career with "dignity," Clyburn said he did not. But he added that striking a deal would likely present a "graceful" ending to the saga.
"I think that what the president was saying was that he would like to see Charlie leave with grace," he said. "In order for Charlie to leave with grace, there must be some interaction, some coordination. This thing has already gone to the adjudication [sic] committee, which means they are in empowered to go forward unless the two sides come together and decide upon some kind of graceful resolution short of a hearing."