Is Charlie Rangel Cutting A Deal on Ethics Charges?

By Alex Pepper

Jul 27, 2010 4:40pm

ABC News’ Dean Norland and John R. Parkinson Report:

In an exclusive interview with ABC News this afternoon, embattled Rep. Charles Rangel addressed reports that he is working today to broker a deal with the House Ethics Committee in order to avoid the high-octane spectacle of a member of Congress being grilled publically by the House Ethics Committee.

Asked if he prefers whether legal teams for each side reach a conclusion before a public hearing scheduled for Thursday, Rangel said he was hopeful lawyers would come to an agreement.

“I want what’s the fair and right thing to do, and I have confidence in my lawyers and the lawyers of the Ethics Committee,” Rangel said. “I hope people are doing what is in the best interest of justice, equity [sic] and fairness.”

Despite the media frenzy surrounding the 20-term congressman from Harlem, the loquacious Rangel seemed positive and up-beat, greeting a small group of surprised tourists and Hill staffers as he waited for a “Members Only” elevator in the Capitol.  “Hi lovely ladies. How you doing?” Rangel cooed before returning his attention to the interview.

Rangel declined to give ABC News a comprehensive update on where negotiations stand this afternoon between his legal team and lawyers for the Ethics Committee.

“I wish I could,” Rangel said. “I wish I knew something to tell you [about the negotiations], but I don’t.”

The ethics committee has worked for two years to investigate allegations that Rangel:

- Accepting four luxury rent-controlled apartments from a NY developer.  He paid about $4,000 a month; they’re worth about twice that much.

- Allegedly helping a donor to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service in New York save a half-billion in taxes.

- Failure to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Caribbean.

Earlier today, when Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) met off-camera with reporters, the majority leader seemed to encourage Rangel to work out a deal, noting that the ethics committee’s investigative process “needs to be vigorous.”

“Mr. Rangel has to do what Mr. Rangel believes is appropriate and proper,” Hoyer said.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.

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