NBC's Shawna Thomas reports that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said in a statement he's "disappointed" in the Ethics Committee and its decision to proceed with the hearing of 13 counts that he broke House rules despite Rangel being without an attorney.
Here's his statement:
I am very disappointed that the Ethics Subcommittee has chosen to proceed with the hearing knowing that I am without counsel. They have decided to continue the hearing on an 80-page document that I received just seven days ago by the Subcommittee staff -which neither I nor others have ever seen before in an ethics inquiry. When I asked what rule this motion was made under and how it was used. I was told nothing. How was I supposed to deal with this when I received it just days before the hearing without an attorney by my side?
Thirteen days ago, the Subcommittee wrote that Members in my position had the right to counsel by setting up a legal defense fund, I could obtain a pro bono counsel or secure counsel at a reduced fee. But setting up a legal defense fund is time-consuming. Moreover, it is unrealistic that I could raise the required funds and replace counsel for an adequate representation. Even if I could create and get approval for this fund this past week, too little time would have been afforded to any counsel to familiarize himself with the record and do the work required in a competent manner. So even if I engaged one now, the counsel would not be in a position to give me meaningful advice.
The process that the Committee has decided to take against me violates the most basic rights of due process that is guaranteed to every person under the Constitution. The Committee has deprived me of the fundamental right to counsel and has chosen to proceed as if it is fair and impartial and operating according to rules, when in reality they are depriving me of my rights.
I hope that my colleagues in Congress, friends, constituents and anyone paying attention will consider my statement and how the Committee has been unfair to me. They can do what they will with me because they have the power and I have no real chance of fighting back.
Now, I am going forward -- not backwards -- to do the job I was elected to do. That is to serve my district and to serve my country, as I have tried to do for the past 50 years. In the end, I hope that I would be judged by my entire record that determines that I have been a credit to the House and to my family, friend and supporters who have entrusted me with this honorable duty.