House Republican leaders weighed in Sunday on embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel’s upcoming ethics trial, stopping short of saying the New York Democrat should step down immediately.
“If the allegations against Charlie Rangel are true, he should step down from Congress. But only Charlie Rangel knows if that’s the case,” Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I really do believe we ought to let Charlie Rangel have his day in court and let the process work,” he added.
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) wouldn’t even go that far when asked whether Rangel should resign.
“I think that’s for Charlie to decide,” he said.
Instead, Boehner directed his criticism at Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not demanding that Rangel give up his gavel of the Ways and Means Committee two years ago, when allegations of ethics violations first surfaced.
“Not once during this entire two-year proceeding has she called on Chairman Rangel to step down from chairing the Ways and Means Committee,” Boehner said. “The American people deserve Members of Congress to hold the most ethical standards.”
Rangel did give up his chairmanship of the tax-writing panel in March after being admonished by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for violating House rules.
Last week, the ethics committee released a report from one of its investigative subcommittees detailing 13 allegations against Rangel, including complaints over his financial disclosure forms.
According to recent news reports, Rangel told leaders in Harlem that he signed a plea deal related to the ethics charges but that Republican lawmakers pushed for the ethics trial anyway. Rangel publicly has denied doing anything intentionally wrong, and his trial has drawn wide attention at a time when Democrats are facing a tough political environment for the midterms.
The 20-term lawmaker also is accused of misusing his office to solicit funding for a City College of New York center named in his honor, accepting a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign office and failing to pay taxes or report income from a Dominican Republic vacation home.