Pelosi amps up pressure on Conyers to resign

Pelosi amps up pressure on Conyers to resign
© Greg Nash

House Democrats, behind Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families Hardline immigration bill fails in the House Pelosi: GOP immigration bill is 'a compromise with the devil' MORE (D-Calif.), are upping the pressure on Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersPortland activist stages ‘reparations happy hour’ Conyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father Conyers's son in danger of missing ballot in Michigan MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) to resign from Congress amid a growing list of sexual harassment allegations.

Pelosi has been working with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) — a group Conyers helped to create decades ago — to convince the veteran Detroit lawmaker to step away from Capitol Hill rather than await the verdict of a House Ethics Committee investigation into his alleged transgressions. 

“Pelosi continues to work with CBC to apply pressure to get Conyers to step down,” a senior aide said Tuesday. 

As a type of backstop, Pelosi also sent a letter to the Ethics Committee on Tuesday urging the panel to move quickly as it considers the Conyers allegations. If the committee needs additional resources to make that happen, Pelosi added, “please make that need known.” 

“We are at a watershed moment for our country in the fight against sexual harassment and discrimination,” Pelosi wrote to Ethics Chairwoman Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksPress shuts out lawmakers to win congressional softball game Indiana shooting ‘hero’ released from hospital Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House MORE (R-Ind.) and ranking member Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchSenate harassment bill runs into opposition from House House Dems want to hire Parkland students for the summer Farenthold says he won't repay K sexual harassment settlement MORE (D-Fla.). 

“The Committee on Ethics has a great responsibility to proceed expeditiously as well as fairly into any investigation of credible harassment and discrimination allegations.”

Conyers, 88 years old and the longest-serving current member of Congress, has denied the accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward former female staffers, three of whom have lodged their charges publicly. The latest case arrived Monday night when The Detroit News reported allegations from a former staffer that Conyers had touched her legs and offered sex against her wishes in the late 1990s. 

Despite maintaining his innocence, Conyers on Sunday agreed to step down from his seat as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

“I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics,” he said in a statement. 

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse panel approves belated 2019 budget Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges —Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families MORE (D-Md.), the minority whip, rejected the notion that Conyers should resign, citing the importance of preserving the rights of the accused to a review process. 

“In every one of these cases we need to have an adjudication, and if found culpable, then accountability needs to [follow],” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol. “And of course, he’s stepped aside [from ranking member], which he should have done.”

But other Democrats aren’t willing to wait for the Ethics panel to reach a verdict. Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceDem rep: ‘No reason’ to lose track of immigrant children Pelosi needs big cushion to return as Speaker Four lawmakers offer bill to permanently ban earmarks MORE (D-N.Y.) has been pushing for Conyers’s resignation for most of the last week, and she was joined on Tuesday by Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalDem lawmaker announces protests against Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback Dem congresswoman: Imprisoned asylum-seeking women have no idea where their children are MORE (D-Wash.), who warned her Democratic colleagues that defending Conyers would steal their moral authority to criticize President Trump — who has been accused of harassment by more than a dozen women — and GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who’s facing his own pile of sexual harassment allegations in Alabama. 

“It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades,” Jayapal said in a statement. 

“[But] I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Mr. Conyers must resign.”