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Rangel Waits To Comment On His Own Ethics Charges

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Congressman Charles Rangel addressed the media on Friday, a day after a House of Representatives committee leveled ethics charges against him, saying that he cannot comment on any of the accusations until next week.

Rangel said that he feels he will be vindicated once the the findings come out.

"Close to two years, I've been saying, 'Will you please wait until the ethics committee completes its investigation?' It's been awkward for me and it's been awkward for you," said the 80-year-old Harlem Democrat.

The House Investigative Committee, which has spent nearly two years looking into Rangel, has not revealed the charges against him just yet. They are set to be made public next Thursday.

"It's almost like a boil that's annoying. It's hurtful, it's harmful. But we will burst it on Thursday and we can see what we have to work with," said Rangel.

The charges stem from allegations Rangel failed to report income on a Dominican Republic rental property, improperly used rent-stabilized apartments in the city, and used official stationary to raise money for a college center that bears his name.

Rangel could face a simple admonishment from the House committee, but the committee could take more serious action and move to expel him from the House.

The congressman said he was not looking forward to the proceedings.

"No, hell no! Nobody in his right mind would be looking forward to something like this," said Rangel.

At least some New York Democrats are still sticking by Rangel, who is running for reelection.

"He's done a great deal of good for this country, not only through his military service, but as the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo seems to be preparing to distance himself. His name is on an invitation for Rangel's upcoming fundraiser, but an aide would not say whether Cuomo will be there.

Rangel's old friends, like former Mayor David Dinkins, warned that no one should count the representative out.

“My hope is that he not only will -- he may get a slap on the wrist, but nothing more serious. He recognizes how serious the charges are, but he as he has said, he needs to know specifically that with which he is charged so he can respond,” said Dinkins.

Rangel, who has held his seat since 1971, is running for re-election this fall. He said today that he cannot see any scenario in which he would not run.

“He is a strong man. When he was in that fox hole in Korea and he says I haven't had a bad day since, that’s the title of his book,” said Dinkins. “He is a winner of the Silver Star and a Purple Heart. He is a tough guy. And he will come through this okay.”

Many of Rangel's Harlem constituents said they will not rush to judgment until they hear all the facts.

"I deal with facts, so until all the facts come out, I don't want to say, because right now it’s all speculation,” said one Harlem resident.

“I'm upset about it. I don't think they're as serious as they're trying to make it,” said another. “Other people are doing the same thing, but they're after him."

Other voters say they're upset about Rangel's use of several rent-stabilized apartments in their district.

Rangel's legacy is already tarnished by these charges, and there is no telling how the congressman's trial will play out.

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