Pelosi calls for Conyers to resign

Greg Nash

Facing criticism for going too soft on sexual harassment, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called for Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) to resign as the allegations of sexual misconduct have mounted against him.

“The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible,” Pelosi said during a briefing in the Capitol, reading from a statement. 

“It’s very sad. The brave women who have come forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign,” she said.

{mosads}Minutes later, appearing in the same briefing room, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also urged Conyers to resign.

Pelosi’s path to calling for Conyers to step down has been a winding one. The minority leader came under fire this week after a Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press,” where she defended Conyers as a “icon” with a long history championing legislation “to protect women.”

She also dodged the question of whether she believed Conyers’s accusers, suggesting the anonymity of one of the women undermined the credibility of her story.

Since then, Pelosi has changed her tune, meeting Tuesday with another Conyers accuser, Melanie Sloan, and announcing afterward that she found Sloan’s story to be credible. Pelosi, along with other Democratic leaders, has also been working quietly with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), a group Conyers co-founded decades ago, in an effort to convince the liberal veteran to resign.

Still, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have approached the Conyers saga delicately, sending a public message promoting Conyers’s rights to due process even as they’ve worked behind the scenes to push him out.

Pelosi on Thursday praised Conyers’s legislative track record and touted his legacy after 53 years on Capitol Hill. 

“As dean, Congressman Conyers has served our Congress for more than five decades, and shaped some of the most consequential legislation of the last half century,” she said. 

“However, zero tolerance means consequences — for everyone. No matter how great the legacy, it’s no license to harass or discriminate. In fact, it makes it even more disappointing,” she said.

Pelosi lauded the House legislation, adopted by the chamber Wednesday, requiring congressional offices to conduct anti-harassment trainings. She also called on Congress to pass another bill to address problems dogging the reporting and settlement process surrounding harassment complaints — a system Pelosi called “broken.”

Conyers was in Washington on Tuesday to huddle with CBC leaders. He jumped on a plane back to Detroit immediately afterward to discuss his future with his family. On Thursday, a spokesman said he had checked into a local hospital.

Pelosi said she hasn’t been in touch with Conyers directly about her call for him to step down.

“I’m saying it to you right now,” she told reporters.

Tags John Conyers Nancy Pelosi Paul Ryan

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