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Congressman steps down from top post amid sexual harassment investigation

27 November 2017

John Conyers, D-Mich., stepped down as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee amid an ethics investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

As recently as Sunday morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appeared on Meet The Press and told host Chuck Todd that Conyers "is an icon in our country", and deserving of due process before any decisions are made regarding his future.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that Conyers' office paid a female aide over $27,000 to settle a wrongful dismissal complaint.

Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, had previously said he wouldn't resign and maintained he still has desire to serve but wouldn't allow the charges to "undermine" his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus. "Just because someone is accused - and was it one accusation?"

Pelosi, the leader of the House Democrats and a former Speaker, opened herself up to fierce criticism and outcry Sunday when she failed to call for Conyers' resignation, instead referring to him as an "icon" and suggesting that his accusers "haven't really come forward".

"I have come to believe that my presence as Ranking Member on the Committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending", he said.

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Ms Pelosi declined to say whether Mr Conyers would suffer any immediate penalty over the allegations.

The House Ethics Committee announced last week that it had launched an investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment and age discrimination against Conyers involving his staff.

The California Democrat noted that the House in the coming week will vote on requiring anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members and their staffs.

Pelosi said she wants the ethics committee investigation to reach its conclusion on Conyers.

The flurry of activity Sunday comes as Congress prepares to return from its Thanksgiving break, amid increasing attention on the issue of sexual harassment with multiple men in entertainment, media and politics facing allegations of misconduct.

Conyers holds a powerful position on Capitol Hill as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Pelosi on Sunday defended what he has done as a longtime member of Congress. "That is women are saying zero tolerance, no more, and we're going to speak out on it".

Congressman steps down from top post amid sexual harassment investigation