Window Past?

Okay, you’ve seen as we have reported that the House Ethics Committee has released a list of 13 charges against former Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY). The key question that still seems murky — and which we have reporters now actively trying to nail down — is how much this development closes the door on any opportunity for Rangel to plead out. In other words, it was understood that up until the Committee went into session, that there were active negotiations underway between Rangel’s lawyers and the committee. Now that the charges have officially been announced, does a trial have to happen? Or can Rangel see the light tomorrow and (presumably at a higher price) plead out and end the whole thing?

We’re not clear on that point yet. We’re trying to get as clear an answer as we can.

Late Update: The Journal continues to report that there in fact is a preliminary deal in place. It’s still being reviewed by committee lawyers, they say. And the key is that at least one of the committee Republicans has to agree to it. The Journal says a committee vote on the deal could come as early as this afternoon.