The NYT’s City Room reports:
The public ethics trial of Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, on 13 charges of unethical behavior took a stunning turn Monday morning when Mr. Rangel walked out of the hearing 40 minutes after it began, complaining that it would be unfair to continue the process because he could no longer afford a lawyer.
But the hearing continued without him.
The Washington Post elaborates:
The panel later deemed the charges against Rangel to be “uncontested” and decided to deliberate on them, dispensing with the trial phase of the case.
In the hearing, conducted by an eight-member panel of Rangel’s congressional peers, Rangel faced allegations that he broke congressional rules in his personal finances and his fundraising efforts for a New York college. He and his previous legal team parted ways last month.
“I object to the proceeding,” Rangel told the House panel. “With all due respect, since I don’t have counsel to advise me, I’m going to have to excuse myself from these proceedings.”
He said he cannot afford a lawyer at present because his campaign account has been depleted.
Wait. Is he saying it’s not fair to try him on ethics charges because he can’t afford counsel, not having been given enough time to steal more money? That’s beautiful! I declare Charlie Rangel not guilty by reason of hilarity. Case closed.