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Rangel Ethics Trial Could Take Several Days

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The ethics trial of embattled former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) could consume several days next week, according to House sources familiar with the matter.

Rangel is accused of 13 Congressional ethics violations. In July, Rangel made the rare decision not to accept punishment meted out by the panel and asked instead for an ethics trial in an effort to clear his name.

The House Ethics Committee has set Rangel's forum for 9 am on Monday, November 15, the first day of the lame-duck session of Congress.

Rangel maintains he's innocent of the slate of allegations. They range from his failure to pay income taxes on a vacation home in the Dominican Republic to his use of House stationery for the Charles B. Rangel Center at City College in New York.

In fact, Rangel took the unprecedented step of referring himself to the committee in July, 2008 to clear up the allegations of wrongdoing.

"When you're as clean as the driven snow, no matter the accusations, just denying is not enough," Rangel told FOX at the time.

The ethics trial will play out in a very similar fashion to proceedings in a courtroom. The panel will apprise Rangel of the charges. They'll then afford the Congressman time for rebuttal. It's believed that Rangel will represent himself during the sessions. Each member of the special subcommittee which is hearing the case will pose questions to Rangel.

Once the trial wraps up, the subcommittee will make its recommendations to the full Ethics Committee. If the Ethics Committee determines that Rangel's alleged missteps deserve formal sanctions, it would then refer that matter to the full House for a vote.

Sources indicated that it was likely the full House could tackle that during its two weeks of lame duck sessions later this month and December.

In July, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), who was one of the investigators probing Rangel, told reporters that his special panel recommended that the House censure the New York Democrat. In the House, censure is when an offending lawmaker stands in the well of the chamber and is reprimanded by the Speaker.

Rangel's trial isn't the only issue before the Ethics Committee. The panel has scheduled a similar trial on November 29 for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). Ethics investigators accuse her of using her position to get federal assistance for a bank on which her husband once sat on the board and owns stock.

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