Last week, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) admitted to paying a sexual harassment settlement (that was taxpayer-funded) in 2015, but he stressed that he did so without admitting guilt, and he again denied allegations made against him. On Sunday’s episode of Meet the Press, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-MD) defended Conyers as “an icon” who has “done a great deal to protect women.” Pelosi also demanded that Conyers receive due process, yet a few hours later, Conyers has decided to step down as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. He issued a statement via CNN:
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters … I deny these allegations … I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.”
Conyers added that he would like to retain his position following the ongoing probe by the House Committee on Ethics:
“To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member. There is still much work to be done on core concerns like securing civil rights, enacting meaningful criminal justice reform, and protecting access to the ballot box.”
Currently, Conyers is the longest-serving member of the House. The allegations against him included a claim that he fired a woman because she didn’t give into his “sexual advances.” Further, Dan Abrams’ Law & Crime is now reporting that the woman is asking to be released from her confidentiality agreement so that she can tell her story to the press.
Following backlash over Pelosi’s early Sunday statements, she has backtracked with a clarification: “We are at a watershed moment on this issue. No matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment.” You can watch her Meet the Press appearance below.
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) November 26, 2017