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

Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceDemocrat offers measure to prevent lawmakers from sleeping in their offices Democrat offers measure to prevent lawmakers from sleeping in their offices Hillicon Valley: Pelosi blasts Facebook for not taking down doctored video | Democrats push election security after Mueller warning | Critics dismiss FCC report on broadband access | Uber to ban passengers with low ratings MORE (D-N.Y.) tore into House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record 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 ConyersMcConnell: Reparations aren't 'a good idea' 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 JayapalShutting down plastics at the source Democrats to pass spending bill with Hyde despite 2020 uproar Democrats to pass spending bill with Hyde despite 2020 uproar MORE (Wash.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerFirst major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz 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 SpeierOvernight Defense: Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy | Trump, Macron downplay rift on Iran | Trump mourns West Point cadet's death in accident | Pentagon closes review of deadly Niger ambush Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' 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.