As Rep. Charlie Rangel’s ethics trial commenced today before the House ethics committee, it was his former legal team that received the most invective.
Rangel asked for the hearing to be postponed on the grounds that he has no counsel. That has been the case since his attorneys at Zuckerman Spaeder withdrew their services, he said. Rangel said he has already spent $2 million in legal fees.
It’s unclear why the law firm backed out, but members of the ethics committee weren’t too impressed that the lawyers would leave their client in the lurch before the equivalent of his day in court.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., described the law firm’s actions as “an astonishing display of professional irresponsibility,” while ranking Republican Michael McCaul of Texas described the situation as “unfortunate.”
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., a former judge, also seemed affronted, saying attorneys have a duty not to bail on their clients at a crucial moment. “It would not have happened in my courtroom,” he said.