Amid growing calls for embattled New York Rep. Charlie Rangel to resign, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointedly refused to answer questions about the powerful 20-term Democrat's future in Congress. But she told ABC's "This Week" that her close relationship with Rangel won't influence the Ethics Committee's decision, and insisted that she's "totally out of the loop" in the handling of Rangel's alleged ethics violations.
"Any personal respect and affection we may have for people makes us sad about the course of events," Pelosi said. "But we have to pull the high ethical standard, and none of our personalities is more important than that."
She told ABC that Rangel's problems don't undermine her 2006 promise to crackdown on corruption in Congress. "I said we're draining the swamp, and we did," she said, insisting Democrats have passed "the most sweeping ethics reform in the history of Congress."
But Pelosi refused to answer whether she thinks Rangel will ever regain the gavel of the House Ways and Means committee or be a member of House leadership. The work of the ethics panel "is independent," Pelosi said, and shouldn't prejudge the question of Rangel's place in the party leadership. "It is confidential, classified, secret, whatever," she said. "We don't know what it is. But we do respect the work that the members of the Committee do."
Pelosi's comments come as President Obama implied in an interview with CBS News that Rangel should resign. "I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served his constituents very well, but these allegations are troubling," Obama told CBS's Harry Smith. "He's somebody at the end of his career, 80 years old… I'm sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity, and my hope is that happens."