Embattled Charlie Rangel walked into tonight's pivotal meeting with House leadership with "no intention" of stepping down as House Ways and Means chairman, according to people close to him - who conceded he might be asked to take one for the party.
"He's not going into there with the sense that he's going to go," said a person close to the 76-year-old Harlem Democrat. "But who know's what's going to happen once he gets in there."
As rumors about Rangel's fate swirled, one House leadership aide said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't have a clue what the outcome of the 5 p.m. pow-wow would be.
Rangel, who has admitted he failed to report investment income from condos in the Dominican Republican and Florida, breezed by reporters staking out his meeting with Pelosi, Majority Whip James Clyburn and other party leaders.
"At this point in time, I'm not able to answer any questions, so don't be offended," the 76-year-old Harlem Democrat said.
He's scheduled to address a closed-door meeting of Ways and Means members afterward, at around 6:30 p.m, a move some staffers interpreted as a possible clue he'd step down.
So far, Rangel has rebuffed calls from the GOP leadership -- and the New York Times -- to step down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, perhaps as a temporary move until a House ethics probe is completed.
John Bresnahan, Patrick O'Connor and Chris Frates contributed to this report.