Pelosi sides with Conyers accuser day after calling him an ‘icon’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday said she talked to and believes the woman who has publicly come forward with allegations against Rep. John Conyers Jr., one day after referring to the Michigan Democrat as an “icon” who deserves “due process.”
“This afternoon, I spoke with Melanie Sloan who worked for Congressman Conyers on the Judiciary Committee in the mid-1990s,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“Ms. Sloan told me that she had publicly discussed distressing experiences while on his staff. I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing. I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me,” she continued.
The Democratic leader also said Sloan, a “respected” Washington-based ethics lawyer, offered “valuable feedback” into ways Congress can combat sexual misconduct amid allegations against a growing number of members.
Pelosi’s statement comes after she faced backlash following an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that broadcasted on 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.
Her Sunday remarks came shortly before Conyers, the longest-serving current member of the House, announced he would resign from his powerful post as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Last week, Sloan publicly accused Conyers of becoming “increasingly abusive” toward her while she worked for him from 1995 to 1998. She also claims that one point the lawmaker appeared in his underwear after summoning her to his office.
Sloan said she felt the need to come forward after BuzzFeed News published a bombshell report that Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint with an unidentified former employee in 2015 over allegations of sexual harassment.
Pelosi also called for the “secretive settlement process in place” to end, saying the “victims who want to come forward to the Ethics Committee must be able to do so.”
Conyers’s attorney in a statement to The Washington Post denied Sloan’s allegations of wrongdoing, and has also “vehemently” denied the accusations mentioned in the BuzzFeed report.
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