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

Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceNew York lawmaker spotted helping mother duck and ducklings cross busy street Minnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen Hillicon Valley: Tech giants poised to weather coronavirus damage | Record Facebook-FTC deal approved | Bipartisan 5G bill introduced MORE (D-N.Y.) tore into House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Pelosi on Baltimore's Columbus statue: 'If the community doesn't want the statue, the statue shouldn't be there' Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections 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 ConyersLocal reparations initiatives can lead to national policy remedying racial injustice Former impeachment managers clash over surveillance bill VA could lead way for nation on lower drug pricing 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 JayapalDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE (Wash.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerChuck E. Cheese files for bankruptcy protection Bipartisan bill introduced to provide 0B in relief for restaurants OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dems press Trump consumer safety nominee on chemical issues | Lawmakers weigh how to help struggling energy industry | 180 Democrats ask House leadership for clean energy assistance 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 SpeierProtests force military reckoning on race Air Force documents acknowledged 'persistent' racial bias in justice system HHS watchdog says actions should be free from political interference 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.