Rangel abandons his ethics trial: 'I don’t think it’s fair'

Claiming he is being denied due process and the opportunity to find an attorney, Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., on Monday walked out of an ethics committee hearing investigating whether he violated House rules

Rangel sparred with the 10-member, bipartisan panel before he walked out to express his frustration. He told reporters as he left the room that he is unable to afford an attorney.

Rangel asked the panel to delay the hearing so that he could fine someone to represent him, but the committee denied his request.

“I don’t think it’s fair that I participate in any type of proceeding, if in fact what you are basically telling me, that the political calendar will not allow you enough time to allow me to get a lawyer at this crucial point in my life,” Rangel said.

Ethics panel chairwoman Zoe Lofgren then reminded Rangel that his lawyer withdrew from the case more than a month ago, “and further counsel has not been retained and that the committee has indicated an intent to proceed today.”

Rangel is facing 13 charges of violating House rules, including failure to file tax returns and using his position as the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee to secure funding for a school named after him.

The trial opened as Congress returned Monday for its lame-duck session and is expected to last several days.

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