Tearful Charlie Rangel Faces Censure


Charles Rangel pleaded for “fairness and mercy,” the ethics committee’s top lawyer has recommended a censure of the New York lawmaker, one of the harshest punishments that the House can deliver short of expulsion from Congress.

The full ethics committee will go into a closed session Thursday afternoon to consider the punishment, just two days after a special ethics subcommittee found Rangel guilty on 11 counts of violating House rules. Rangel – who walked out of his ethics trial on Monday — brought some fresh drama to the hearing room once again Thursday, having civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) sit by his side as a supporting witness.

Before the punishment phase in the Rangel ethics trial began on Thursday, Rangel issued a long, emotional statement imploring his colleagues not to be too harsh. As the ethics committee hearing ended Thursday, Rangel gave another tearful plea.

""Let me apologize to the committee for putting you in this awful position,"" Rangel told his 10 colleagues.

He repeatedly emphasized that whatever wrongdoing he had committed was not motivated by personal corruption.

""I don't know how much longer I have to live,"" Rangel said.""I just want you when you decide on the sanctions that you put in that report that Charles Rangel never sought any personal gain.""

Rangel added: ""There is no excuse for my behavior, but there was no attempt to go beyond what was given to me as my salary. There was no attempted to enrich myself.""

The recommendation of censure for Rangel was a surprising one, considering earlier comments from Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), who helped led the two-year probe into Rangel’s finances.

""The recommendation we had was a reprimand,"" Green told reporters back in July. ""I'll let the full [ethics] committee make that decision."""