House minority leader Pelosi calls allegations serious, disappointing and credible and says Michigan congressman, 88, should step down
Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Democratic congressman John Conyers should resign in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment by women.
Pelosi, the House minority leader, said that the allegations against her fellow Democrat were serious, disappointing and very credible. The House minority leader on Sunday defended Conyers, who has served in Congress since 1964.
It is very sad. The brave women who came forward are owed justice, Pelosi said during a weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign.
Moments later, the House speaker, Paul Ryan, agreed with Pelosi and called on Conyers to resign immediately.
Conyers, who vigorously denies the allegations against him, has no intention of stepping down, said Arnold Reed, Conyers lawyer, during a combative press conference in which he attacked Pelosi for not being a strong enough advocate for women.
It is not up to Nancy Pelosi, Reed said outside the Conyers family home. Nancy Pelosi did not elect him and she sure as hell wont be the one to tell the congressman to leave.
The congressman, who is 88 and the longest-serving member of Congress, was hospitalized overnight for issues related to stress, Reed said. Conyers was taken to the hospital in Detroit after experiencing shortness of breath and dizziness.
Conyers announced on Sunday he would step aside as the top Democrat on the House judiciary committee, less than a week after a BuzzFeed investigation disclosed he paid a former employee a $27,000 settlement as part of a confidentiality agreement.
That woman publicly identified herself on Thursday as Marion Brown, a former staffer who had worked for the congressman for 11 years. During that time she said Conyers violated her body and frequently propositioned her for sex. On one occasion, she said he stood before her in his underwear and asked her to touch his genitals.
It was sexual harassment, violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and propositioning for sex, Brown said. He just violated my body, hes touched me in different ways. It was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional.
Brown signed a nondisclosure agreement as part of the 2015 settlement but said Conyers vehement denial of the allegations had prompted her to come forward.
Im here to say that I am not a liar, she said. I felt it was worth the risk to stand up for all of the women in the workforce that are voiceless.
The settlement illuminated the lack of accountability when US lawmakers are accused of misconduct or inappropriate behavior and has prompted calls to change the complex complaint process, which currently requires accusers be subject to mandatory counseling and mediation.