WASHINGTON — Four days after she was panned for calling Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., an “icon” in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on the veteran congressman to resign.
“Congressman Conyers should resign,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
On Sunday, Pelosi said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she didn’t know who her fellow Democrat’s accusers were when asked if she believed them.
“Just because someone is accused — and was it one accusation? Is it two?” Pelosi said. “The fact is, as John reviews his case, which he knows, which I don’t, I believe he will do the right thing.”
On Thursday she struck a different note.
“The allegations against Congressman Conyers are serious, disappointing and very credible,” Pelosi said. “The brave women who came forward are owed justice.”
She added that she is praying for Conyers and his family. The 88-year-old and longest serving member of Congress was hospitalized recently in Detroit. Conyers stepped down from his role as the top Democrat of the House Judiciary Committee after the allegations from a former employee first surfaced in BuzzFeed. The former employee said she reached a settlement with Conyers after she alleged was fired for not reciprocating his advances.
A second former Conyers employee, Marion Brown, said on the “Today” show Thursday that Conyers sexually harassed her over years, “violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and then propositioning me for sex.”
CNN reported that members of the Congressional Black Caucus were in talks with Conyers to ask him to resign after the House Ethics Committee announced an investigation into him last week.
The House passed a resolution Wednesday mandating sexual harassment training for all lawmakers and staff. Separate bills that have not yet been voted on would reform the process for reporting sexual harassment so that lawmakers and staff accused of wrongdoing would be responsible for paying for settlements themselves. Currently the Office of Compliance pays for settlements with taxpayer money.
“Understand that it’s all over,” Pelosi said of the culture of hushed-up sexual harassment settlements on Capitol Hill. “There is a new day.”
After Pelosi’s remarks, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan also called on Conyers to resign “immediately.”
But a lawyer for Conyers said during a news conference that the Detroit congressman would not be backing down. The lawyer, Arnold Reed, said Pelosi “sure as hell won’t be the one to tell the congressman to leave,” according to the Associated Press.
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