Democrat: Pelosi ‘ceded the moral high ground’ on sexual harassment
© Camille Fine

Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceDHS suggests new role for cybersecurity staff — helping with border crisis WHIP LIST: Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race MORE (D-N.Y.) tore into House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Hillicon Valley: Facebook won't remove doctored Pelosi video | Trump denies knowledge of fake Pelosi videos | Controversy over new Assange charges | House Democrats seek bipartisan group on net neutrality MORE for her comments on NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier this week, saying Pelosi "ceded the moral high ground," by praising Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersReparations: The 'lost cause' of black politics? Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Reparations bill wins new momentum in Congress MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) amid sexual misconduct allegations. 

“I think that her comments on Sunday set women back and — quite frankly, our party back — decades,” Rice told reporters Wednesday, according to Politico

“I think that we ceded the moral high ground on Sunday when our leader said on ‘Meet the Press’ that John Conyers was an icon and we don’t even know who these women are, when she was fully aware that the woman in question was bound by a nondisclosure agreement,” Rice continued. 

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“I think we had an opportunity to stake that moral high ground when you have a president who is supporting a man for Senate who — all credible allegations that have not been refuted — showed him to be a predator of teenage girls,” she said.

Rice is one of three Democratic House members who has called for Conyers's resignation over the allegations, along with Reps. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval House Democrat: Seattle airport's ban on ICE detainee flights helps 'hold a lawless administration accountable' MORE (Wash.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerWHIP LIST: Democrats who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump Top House Dem calls to launch impeachment inquiry if McGahn skips testimony Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order to protect US networks from Chinese tech | Huawei downplays order | Trump declines to join effort against online extremism | Facebook restricts livestreaming | FCC proposes new tool against robocalls MORE (Ore.) She was also a vocal opponent of Pelosi's reelection as the House Democratic leader. 

Pelosi has faced backlash following an interview on “Meet the Press” Sunday in which she defended Conyers, calling him an “icon in our country.”

When asked during the interview if she believes the allegations made against her Democratic colleague, Pelosi dodged, saying that is for the House Ethics Committee "to review” as part of its investigation into the allegations against him. 

The California lawmaker also praised Conyers, saying he has done a "great deal" of work to "protect women" with his help on the Violence Against Women Act.

Pelosi has supported legislation by Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierMomentum grows to create 'Do Not Track' registry Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller House Democrats press leaders to start Trump impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), herself a victim of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, that overhauls House policies on the reporting of sexual assault complaints. 

The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Conyers after BuzzFeed News reported that he had settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former staffer who accused him of sexual harassment.
 
A D.C.-based ethics lawyer came forward after the initial report, alleging that Conyers harassed and verbally abused her while she worked for him in the 1990s.