A combative Rep. Charles Rangel told the House Tuesday he's not resigning despite 13 charges of wrongdoing and demanded the ethics committee not leave him "swinging in the wind."
Rangel, who is 80, spoke without notes in an extraordinary, often emotional 37-minute speech that defied his lawyers' advice to keep quiet about his case. The New York Democrat and 40-year House veteran had a sharp message in dismissing fellow Democrats who - worried about election losses - want him to quit,
"If I can't get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot in getting rid of me through expulsion," he said.
Expulsion is the harshest penalty that can result from an ethics case. It would be highly unlikely in Rangel's case because the former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee is not accused of corruption.
Rangel was interrupted by applause twice, including when he said, "I am not going away. I am here."
The Democrat from Harlem acknowledged he made mistakes, but said he was not corrupt.
"I'm not asking for leniency. I'm asking for exposure of the facts," he said in demanding that the ethics panel expedite the hearing of his case.
Rangel noted the committee is scheduled to convene Sept. 13, the day before his primary, but that the main part of his ethics trial would not come until later in the fall.
"Don't leave me swinging in the wind until November," he demanded.