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

Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch Democrat offers measure to prevent lawmakers from sleeping in their offices MORE (D-N.Y.) tore into House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Democrats will 'certainly' beat Trump in 2020 Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing 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 ConyersEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' McConnell: Reparations aren't 'a good idea' This week: Democrats move funding bills as caps deal remains elusive 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 woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan Democrats ignore Asian American and Pacific Islander voters at their peril Overnight Health Care: Watchdog details severe trauma suffered by separated children | Judge approves B CVS-Aetna merger | House Dem Caucus chair backs 'Medicare for All' MORE (Wash.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees 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 SpeierDemocrats call on House committees to probe Epstein's 2008 'sweetheart deal,' suicide Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' Epstein death sparks questions for federal government 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.