March 22, 2018

Dem Rep. Pelosi: Accused Conyers Deserves 'Due Process'

27 November 2017, 12:58 | Rodolfo Wallace

Mark Wilson Getty Images

Chairman John Conyers listens to testimony from Attorney General Eric Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill

Amid a congressional investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee says he will step aside from that role.

Conyers has acknowledged that his office settled a harassment complaint involving a former staffer but denies the allegations against him.

Meet The Press host Chuck Todd introduced the question by noting that Pelosi has referred to the current climate on sexual harassment and predatory behavior as "zero tolerance", asking her what that means for the 27-term congressman. BuzzFeed News, which first reported the settlement, said it had received documents from Mike Cernovich, a right-wing commentator. "But I have come to believe that my presence as ranking member would not serve these efforts while the ethics committee investigation is pending".

"Next, Congress must move swiftly to reform the Office of Compliance and the Congressional Accountability Act to put an end to the days of secret settlements paid for by taxpayer dollars", Ms Pelosi said in her statement.

The news came shortly after the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, was widely criticised for calling the 88-year-old an "icon" because of his work in the civil rights movement.

But separately, she tweeted, in reference to Conyers, that "no matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment".

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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.

He added, "I am grateful to my colleagues who have called for due process before weighing judgment". Just because someone is accused - was it one accusation or is it two?

"Something very transformative is happening", Pelosi said.

Pelosi continued that she was confident Conyers would "do the right thing" as his case is reviewed, but stopped short of referencing resignation.

Members of Congress have complained about the "due process" system, saying it is outdated and biased toward insulating lawmakers from suffering penalties for misconduct.

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