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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi calls on Ryan to bring long-term Violence Against Women Act to floor Dems' confidence swells with midterms fast approaching GOP: The economy will shield us from blue wave MORE (D-Calif.), are upping the pressure on Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersConservative activist disrupts campaign event for Muslim candidates Michigan Dems elect state's first all-female statewide ticket for midterms Record numbers of women nominated for governor, Congress 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 BrooksWomen poised to take charge in Dem majority Hillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid Press shuts out lawmakers to win congressional softball game MORE (R-Ind.) and ranking member Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchHouse panels set up to probe indicted GOP Reps. Collins, Hunter Ivanka Trump on mass shooting: 'Our hearts are with Jacksonville' Top Ethics Dem calls for Nielsen to resign 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 HoyerDems' confidence swells with midterms fast approaching Trump's Puerto Rico tweets spark backlash Hoyer lays out government reform blueprint 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 RiceReforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain The Hill's Morning Report — Dems split on key issues but united against Trump Trump ally suspends reelection campaign 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 JayapalDem rep: Why shouldn’t Americans believe Trump is as corrupt as his friends? Sunday shows preview: Trump faces fallout after Manafort flips Dem lawmaker launches PAC to fund candidates who support 'Medicare for All' 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.”