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

Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceSelect committee member thanks officers who responded Jan. 6: 'You were our last line of defense' Overnight Health Care: White House signals new COVID-19 strategy as delta variant spreads | McConnell urges vaccinations | Maryland says all COVID-19 deaths last month were among unvaccinated House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill MORE (D-N.Y.) tore into House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium 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 ConyersThe faith community can help pass a reparations bill California comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote 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 JayapalSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Angst grips America's most liberal city Congress must lower the Medicare Age to save the lives of older Americans MORE (Wash.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection On The Money: Schumer pressured from all sides on spending strategy | GOP hammers HUD chief over sluggish rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights Hillicon Valley: Biden to appoint Big Tech critic to DOJ antitrust role | House passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks | Bezos returns from flight to space 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 SpeierJimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 75th anniversary, longest-married presidential couple Military braces for sea change on justice reform House panel plans mid-July consideration of military justice overhaul 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.