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Rangel Walks Out of Ethics Trial


"All I'm asking for is the time to get counsel."

Rep. Charlie Rangel tried to get a delay in his ethics trial. Something about being denied a lawyer. Didn't work. The House panel said tough luck -- the trial proceeds.


Complaining bitterly that he was denied the right to have an attorney present for his ethics trial, an emotional Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) threatened to walk out of the proceedings unless he was given more time to hire counsel.

Rangel began today's hearing without an attorney present, and he quickly asked for a continuation of his trial. The venerable New York Democrat said the ethics committee had denied his request in a recent letter, but the panel went into private session after two separate appeals by Rangel.

Rangel was visibly emotional in his opening speech, and his threat to walk out offered a jarring moment to a trial that is expected to last all week.

Update: The threatened walk out became an actual walk out when the hearing resumed without Rangel:

Complaining bitterly that he was denied the right to have an attorney present, an emotional Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) walked out of his highly publicized public ethics trial Monday morning, an unexpected twist in the ethics inquiry has tarnished Rangel’s four-decade congressional career.

The ethics panel, after an unexpected 40-minute private session, rejected Rangel’s request to delay the trial and went ahead anyway. The witness chair where Rangel was supposed to sit was empty, a dramatic sign of Rangel’s refusal to participate.

With Rangel gone – foregoing the 10 hours he was granted to defend himself - the committee moved very quickly through the case and spent just 80 minutes reviewing the allegations before retiring to decide whether it would approve a "motion for summary judgment."

If that motion is approved the Rangel trial is esentially over, just several hours after beginning.

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