Sunday, 17 December, 2017

In an awkward interview, Nancy Pelosi defends Democratic congressman accused of harassment

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Angelo Anderson | 27 November, 2017, 00:57

The first effect since the discussion of sexual harassment in Congress began has come as Rep. John Conyers has stepped down from his position as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Pelosi was among the Democrats to call for that investigation and Conyers said he would fully cooperate.

The flurry of activity Sunday comes as Congress prepares to return from its Thanksgiving break, amid increasing attention on the issue of sexual harassment with multiple men in entertainment, media and politics facing allegations of misconduct.

"I have asked for an ethics investigation, and as that investigation continues, Congressman Conyers has agreed to step aside as Ranking Member", Pelosi said.

Conyers, 88, denied the first reported allegation, although he acknowledged that a settlement had existed.

"To be clear, I would like very much to remain as ranking member", Mr Conyers added in his statement.

"That's for the [House] Ethics Committee to review".

Conyers said the allegations were "raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger" and looks "forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics".

When pressed again, she replied that the review was under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee.

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"We are strengthened by due process".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she accepted Conyers' resignation. "Just because someone is accused - and was it one accusation?"

This week, the House is expected to approve a resolution mandating that all members and their staffs participate in anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training.

In a statement, the 88-year-old lawmaker made clear he would prefer to keep his leadership role on the committee, which has wide jurisdiction over US law enforcement, from civil rights and impeachment of federal officials to sexual harassment protections.

When asked in an interview with Chuck Todd on "Meet The Press" whether Conyers should step aside, the California Democrat instead praised the longtime MI lawmaker, citing his work on the Violence Against Women Act as an example of his respect for women.

"Something very transformative is happening", Pelosi said.

Earlier Sunday, Pelosi defended Conyers as an "icon" for women's rights and told NBC's "Meet the Press" that he will do the "right thing".

"The whole system needs to have a comprehensive shift", Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier told ABC's This Week.

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