WASHINGTON - (AP) - Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel, facing an investigation by the House ethics committee, says he has decided to temporarily step down from his post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rangel made the announcement to reporters on Capitol HillWednesday, saying he would not answer any questions. He said, "Ihope you don't mind. I don't take questions."

He said that "from the very, very beginning, I had offered" toHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi to step down from the post.

He said he leaving "to avoid my colleagues having to defendme" during the campaign season.