Jillian Bandes
Rep. Charlie Rangel has a law degree from St. Johns University. It was curious, then, when his main defense this morning during the start of his ethics trial was that he did not have an attorney advising him. "All I'm asking is for a chance to get counsel," he said, petitioning for a delay in the proceedings.

Uh, what? Rangel is a attorney who knew he would be in a legal hotseat starting this morning. How come he failed to plan for appropriate counsel ahead of time? Furthermore, how come he couldn't simply defend himself, as was widely expected?

His team of lawyers had left him in September, Rangel said, and he had exhausted all of his unethically raised funds trying to pay for them. This apparently amounted to being treated inappropriately by the Ethics Committee. "I truly believe I am not being treated fairly," he said. Astonishingly, Rangel threatened to walk out of the trial if his request was not granted.

Rangel is a guy who has evaded taxes and used high office for personal fundraising, and throughout it all has declared his innocence by avoiding tough questions. This flimsy excuse is nothing more than an attempt to continue doing the same.

UPDATE: Rangel followed through with his threat to walk out of his trial. The Committee decided to deny Rangel's request to delay the proceedings, and Rangel is no longer in the Ethics Committee trial room. NY Daily News:
Embattled Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel startled the House panel weighing ethics charges against him Monday by announcing he was "excusing myself from these proceedings" and walking out.

"I respectfully remove myself from these hearings," the 80-year-old Rangel said with a dramatic flourish before bolting from the startled subcommittee.

Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com