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Fans cheer Michael Jackson in second day on Capitol Hill

Embattled star makes no comment


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Michael Jackson flashes a peace sign as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks Wednesday.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A crowd of shrieking fans followed embattled pop star Michael Jackson out of a Capitol Hill office building Wednesday after he met with lawmakers to discuss lending his celebrity to the fight against AIDS in Africa.

"There's never been a meeting in Congress like this particular meeting," said Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois. "This man, Michael Jackson, is going to lead the global effort to make sure that we provide all of our resources -- all of our attention -- to eliminating and dealing with this scourge called AIDS."

It was Jackson's second visit to Capitol Hill in as many days, and, this time, he met with more lawmakers.

About 50 onlookers cried "Michael! Michael!" as Capitol Police and security guards helped Jackson push through the crowd in the corridor of a House office building on his way into and out of the meeting.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said Jackson has committed to an African concert tour to raise money for anti-AIDS efforts.

Jackson wore a sequined scarlet tunic with sergeant's stripes on the sleeves for his two-hour meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and African diplomats. He did not speak at a news conference that followed the meeting but gave an occasional thumbs-up or peace sign to support points made by other speakers.

The Washington visit comes the same week that prosecutors in Santa Barbara, California, have begun presenting a child molestation case against him to a grand jury. The 45-year-old singer has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. defended the "sideshow," saying reporters would not have covered an anti-AIDS meeting without the King of Pop.

"The Congressional Black Caucus has held dozens of press conferences on this subject," the Illinois Democrat said. "We have met with our colleagues about this, and we have seen no change in the substantive numbers that can address the scourge of AIDS on the continent of Africa."

The congressman -- no relation to the singer -- said the Bush administration had failed to follow through on its $15 billion pledge to fight the spread of the disease.

Michael Jackson has been charged with seven felony counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 and two counts of giving the child an "intoxicating agent." He has denied any wrongdoing.

In planning the Capitol Hill visit, his publicist had requested a meeting for the singer with the entire Congressional Black Caucus, but was turned down. The caucus cited scheduling conflicts, but aides privately acknowledged that many members didn't want their picture taken with the embattled star.

Lee, the vice chairwoman of the caucus, said Jackson is not the first person accused of wrongdoing to visit Congress, and said his legal problems "will be addressed in a court of law."

"No one is taking lightly these charges," she told CNN. "No one is condoning any of the actions that are alleged. But this is a people's house."


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