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Boehner, Hoyer Trade Jabs Over Rangel Trial

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the upcoming ethics trial of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) proves that Democrats failed to “drain the swamp,” while Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) argued that the investigation of Rangel showed that the ethics process is working again.

“This isn’t really about Charlie Rangel,” Boehner said. “This is a sad day when the U.S. House of Representatives has to sit in trial of one of its own Members. It is one of the biggest broken promises” of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), “who promised to drain the swamp.”

“The fact is the swamp has not been drained. The ethics committee is overwhelmed with the number of transgressions that are there,” he said.

Boehner promised to make the ethics process work if he becomes Speaker.

Hoyer, however, said Republicans did not vigorously pursue ethics cases on their watch. A series of ethical troubles led up to the GOP’s 2006 defeat, including the case of former Rep. Mark Foley (Fla.), who exchanged racy messages with House pages while he was in office.

“The Foley matter was ignored for years,” Hoyer said.

He also defended Rangel’s right to pursue a trial.

“We’ll see what Mr. Rangel decides to do,” Hoyer said at his weekly pen-and-pad press conference, adding later that he should do what he believes is “appropriate and proper.”

He noted that Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) resigned rather than go through the ethics process earlier this year, which Hoyer said showed that the process is working, and said the Rangel matter was pursued vigorously.

“We have made the ethics process work, and we have made it work in a meaningful way,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer acknowledged that the process was awkward for Members.

“I think everyone would like to have it go away in the sense that this is not a pleasant process. … But it is an important process.”

Asked about the implications of the trial in the November election, Hoyer contended that the public will make a choice based on whether they want to go back to the economic policies of President George W. Bush. “That’s really what America is going to vote on,” he said.