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Rep. Charles Rangel vows to fight ethics trial: 'I'm not going away'

The House ethics panel has outlined 13 charges against Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York. But the 20-term lawmaker gave a defiant, off-the-cuff speech Tuesday.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York talks with reporters on his way to the elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday. He defended himself against 13 ethics charges in a House speech Tuesday.

Susan Walsh/AP

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Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York took to the House floor today to set the record straight: Would he quietly step down rather than face a public corruption trial on the eve of midterm elections that could topple his party’s House majority?

The answer, emphatically, is no.

“If I were you, I would want me to go away too. I'm not going away," said the 20-term Harlem lawmaker, in a surprise, emotional speech that kept House members riveted to their seats, even as they missed their afternoon plane reservations home.

Democratic leaders called the House back into session today to pass a $26 billion emergency aid package for teachers and state workers, as well as a $600 million measure to beef up security along the US-Mexican border. But Congressman Rangel told colleagues that his situation, too, constituted an emergency. After two years of investigation by the House ethics panel, Rangel said that he deserved a quick resolution to the charges against him.

“This has to stop sometime," he said. "If I can't get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot at getting rid of me through expulsion."

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