Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and Michigan Rep. John Conyers has announced that he is going to step aside from his position after allegations that he sexually harassed two women formerly working for him.
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters,” Conyers said in a statement, vehemently denying the allegations.
“I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics,” Conyers wrote in his statement. “To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member.”
Full John Conyers statement announcing he is stepping down as Judiciary RM during the ethics committee investigation pic.twitter.com/VMyMawWDQ4
— Kate Nocera (@KateNocera) November 26, 2017
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said that there will be mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for members of the House. Pelosi wants “to put an end to the days of secret settlements paid for by taxpayer dollars,” by making changes to the Office of Compliance and the Congressional Accountability Act.
Pelosi said in a statement,
Zero tolerance means consequences. I have asked for an ethics investigation, and as that investigation continues, Congressman Conyers has agreed to step aside as Ranking Member.
As a woman and mother of four daughters, I particularly take any accusation of sexual harassment very seriously. Any credible accusation must be reviewed by the Ethics Committee expeditiously. We are at a watershed moment on this issue, and no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment. I commend the brave women coming forward.
On Meet the Press, Pelosi spoke about the popularity of allegations of sexual harassment: “Something very transformative is happening. Women are saying ‘zero tolerance. No more. And we’re going to speak out on it.’ And this is so wholesome, so refreshing, so different.”
When asked what she meant by “zero tolerance,” since she admitted she believed Conyers would “do the right thing” and would not fire him, Pelosi responded, “We are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused — was it one accusation, was it two? … John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women — the Violence Against Women Act.”
Similar to the women of SNL, 12 women who previously worked for Conyers called him a “gentleman” who “never behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner in our presence.”
“We are women whose combined tenures span over thirty years working with Congressman Conyers in Washington, D.C. in a variety of capacities, including legal, communications, and executive support positions. We do not condone or justify sexual harassment and believe the ongoing national debate is important. While we do not pass judgment on the specific allegations reported in the press or the women who brought them, our experiences with Mr. Conyers were quite different than the image of him being portrayed in the media. Mr. Conyers was a gentleman and never behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner in our presence. He was respectful, valued our opinions, challenged our thinking, and treated us as professionals. Under his leadership, we worked in an environment dedicated to the advancement of human and civil rights, including women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, voting rights, and the intellectual property rights of creators. We believe in due process and support allowing the ethics investigation to run its course.”
Martina A. Hone
Stephanie Y. Moore
Stephanie J. Peters
Rinia L. Shelby
B. Nicole Triplett
Sure, Conyers should not be given a pass, but nobody seems to be actively calling for Trump’s resignation due to his behavior towards women, including accusations of sexual harassment by almost twenty women.