Pelosi Not Prepared to Strip Rangel of Chairmanship After Ethics Violation

Rep. Charlie Rangel's admonishment by the House ethics panel does not disqualify him from leading the chamber's influential tax-writing committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday, even as she acknowledged the conflict doesn't pass the smell test.

"No, it doesn't. No, it doesn't," Pelosi said. "The fact is, is that what Mr. Rangel has been admonished for is not good. It was a violation of the rules of the House. It was not something that jeopardized our country in any way."

The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the ethics committee, admonished Rangel last week for taking corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean, which are a violation of House rules.

The panel did not find that Rangel knew about the sponsorship, only his staff did, but it concluded Rangel should have known about it. On Friday, the panel released documents showing that Rangel's aides wrote memos to the congressman, indicating that corporate sponsors were footing the bill. But Rangel denied seeing any of them.

"It said he did not knowingly violate House rules, so that gives him some comfort," Pelosi said.

The committee is still investigating a number of accusations against Rangel, including failure to pay taxes and report rental income on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

On Sunday, a New York Times editorial took exception with Rangel's response to the findings and suggested Pelosi take action to remove him from the panel.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., agreed.

"Nancy Pelosi said in the very beginning this is going to be the most open, honest, and ethical Congress in history. And what we're seeing is she's breaking that promise every day," Cantor said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

An outside panel appointed by Pelosi when she became the majority leader is considering additional actions against Rangel, D-N.Y. Pelosi, who served for seven years as a member of ethics panel, said the panel should finish its work before she draws any conclusions.

"The last thing I would have wanted would be for the speaker of the House to interfere in a political way in what was going on there. That just should never happen," she said.

But Republican Rep. John Carter of Texas said he plans to introduce a privileged resolution next week to remove Rangel from his seat at the top of the House Ways and Means Committee, an effort he tried twice last year but failed to achieve.

The last time, he got two Democratic votes for the measure, but that number could grow this time around.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., said she too wants to hear the totality of the conclusions from the investigations before she considers Rangel's future, but said "it's a very serious thing" when a House member violates the body's rules.

"Obviously, any time a member is found to have violated House ethics rules, it's deeply concerning," she said in her appearance with Cantor.

Fox News' Caroline Shively contributed to this report.