The House ethics committee chairman, Democrat Zoe Lofgren of California, says the secret talks are between Rangel's attorney and the non-partisan staff of the committee. She heads the full ethics committee and also the panel that would decide in a trial whether charges of ethical misconduct could be proved.
Lofgren said she is not involved in the talks. She said the congressmen on the ethics committee have always accepted the recommendations of the professional staff in previous settlements. People familiar with earlier talks said those negotiations broke down when Rangel would only admit to some violations.