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Pelosi amps up pressure on Conyers to resign

Pelosi amps up pressure on Conyers to resign
© Greg Nash

House Democrats, behind Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Senate investigation of insurrection falls short Ocasio-Cortez: 'Old way of politics' influences Manchin's thinking MORE (D-Calif.), are upping the pressure on Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersCalifornia comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) to resign from Congress amid a growing list of sexual harassment allegations.

Pelosi has been working with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) — a group Conyers helped to create decades ago — to convince the veteran Detroit lawmaker to step away from Capitol Hill rather than await the verdict of a House Ethics Committee investigation into his alleged transgressions. 

“Pelosi continues to work with CBC to apply pressure to get Conyers to step down,” a senior aide said Tuesday. 

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As a type of backstop, Pelosi also sent a letter to the Ethics Committee on Tuesday urging the panel to move quickly as it considers the Conyers allegations. If the committee needs additional resources to make that happen, Pelosi added, “please make that need known.” 

“We are at a watershed moment for our country in the fight against sexual harassment and discrimination,” Pelosi wrote to Ethics Chairwoman Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Bold leadership is necessary to curb violence against youth Here are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act MORE (R-Ind.) and ranking member Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchWray grilled on FBI's handling of Jan. 6 Omar feuds with Jewish Democrats Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' MORE (D-Fla.). 

“The Committee on Ethics has a great responsibility to proceed expeditiously as well as fairly into any investigation of credible harassment and discrimination allegations.”

Conyers, 88 years old and the longest-serving current member of Congress, has denied the accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward former female staffers, three of whom have lodged their charges publicly. The latest case arrived Monday night when The Detroit News reported allegations from a former staffer that Conyers had touched her legs and offered sex against her wishes in the late 1990s. 

Despite maintaining his innocence, Conyers on Sunday agreed to step down from his seat as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. 

“I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics,” he said in a statement. 

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi signals no further action against Omar Overnight Energy: EPA to reconsider Trump decision not to tighten soot standards | Interior proposes withdrawal of Trump rule that would allow drillers to pay less | EPA reverses Trump guidance it said weakened 'forever chemicals' regulations Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias MORE (D-Md.), the minority whip, rejected the notion that Conyers should resign, citing the importance of preserving the rights of the accused to a review process. 

“In every one of these cases we need to have an adjudication, and if found culpable, then accountability needs to [follow],” Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol. “And of course, he’s stepped aside [from ranking member], which he should have done.”

But other Democrats aren’t willing to wait for the Ethics panel to reach a verdict. Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RiceHouse moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill House GOP campaign arm adds to target list Lawmakers brace for bitter fight over Biden tax plan MORE (D-N.Y.) has been pushing for Conyers’s resignation for most of the last week, and she was joined on Tuesday by Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalNew Alzheimer's drug sparks backlash over FDA, pricing Hillicon Valley: House targets tech giants with antitrust bills | Oversight chair presses JBS over payment to hackers | Trump spokesman to join tech company | YouTube suspends GOP senator Simmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over MORE (D-Wash.), who warned her Democratic colleagues that defending Conyers would steal their moral authority to criticize President Trump — who has been accused of harassment by more than a dozen women — and GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who’s facing his own pile of sexual harassment allegations in Alabama. 

“It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades,” Jayapal said in a statement. 

“[But] I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Mr. Conyers must resign.”