Rangel threatens to walk out of his ethics trial, demands lawyer

The ethics subcommittee trying embattled Rep. Charles Rangel recessed after 30 minutes Monday after the Harlem lawmaker threatened to walk out of the proceedings. 

In a lengthy and contentious informal opening statement, Rangel (D-N.Y.) complained that the panel putting him on trial for allegedly violating 13 House ethics rules trampled on his due process rights since it began the hearing without him having legal representation. Rangel repeatedly asked for a postponement of the trial. 

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"Since I don't have counsel, I am going to have to excuse myself from these proceedings," Rangel said.

"Fifty years of public service is on the line," he continued. "I am entitled to a lawyer in this proceeding."

The committee went to a closed-door hearing upon the request of subcommittee member Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldCBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head Bickering Democrats return with divisions MORE (D-N.C.).

Ethics committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said Rangel had the opportunity to hire a lawyer using either personal funds, campaign money or a legal defense fund.

Rangel shot back that acquiring pro bono or discounted counsel would violate ethics rules against gifts. 

"I would want you to know that I don't think it's fair that I participate in any type of proceeding if in fact which you are basically telling me that the political calendar would not allow me to get a lawyer at this point of in my life," he added. 

Rangel recently parted ways with his attorneys after spending over $1 million on his defense over the course of two years. During his remarks, Rangel referred to the fact that he spent a large sum of money to defend himself during the past two years. 

Before he threatened to walk out of the trial, Rangel said it was "very, very unwise" to represent himself.