Rangel vs. Obama: Embattled House Democrat Defends Himself, As White House Backs Away From Obama’s Earlier Statement
August 10, 2010 - 4:01 PMEmbattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) seemed to take on President Barack Obama during a 37-minute speech defending himself on the House floor Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the White House backed away from what appeared to be Obama’s call for Rangel to resign from Congress.
"If I can't get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot in getting rid of me through expulsion,” said Rangel, whom the House Ethics Committee has charged with doing legislative favors for donors he solicited — on official stationery — for contributions to a college center named after him.
The 80-year-old Rangel also is accused of belated payment of taxes from income on his rental unit at a Dominican Republic resort; and taking advantage of a New York rent subsidy for residential units, by using a Harlem apartment as a campaign office.
Specifically, Rangel’s reference to “dignity” comes after Obama said in a July 30 CBS News interview, “He's somebody who's at the end of his career. I'm sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity. And my hope is that it happens.”
Rangel said in the speech, “When the president said he wanted me to end my career in dignity, he didn't put a time limit on it.”
Rangel insists he is not guilty of the ethics charges against him but admits that he has made mistakes. He has already stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws.
White House spokesman Bill Burton insisted Tuesday that the White House was not getting involved in the House ethics probe.
“As the White House has said before, as the president has said before, it is a bipartisan process in place, and we are just not going to be in the business of pre-judging the answer to what are some pretty serious questions,” Burton said.
When another reporter followed up regarding what Obama said, Burton said, “I think the president’s words speak for themselves.”
The reporter said, “So do we.”
Burton laughed nervously.
“Um, and the, and the – like I said, we’re not pre-judging the outcome of this bipartisan process,” Burton said.