John Conyers quits House judiciary committee amid sexual harassment allegations

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dodged questions about whether Rep. John Conyers should resign following revelations that he settled a 2015 complaint with a former staffer who claimed she was sacked after refusing his sexual advances.

Conyers, 88, is now subject to a House Ethics Committee investigation after the Detroit Democrat was accused of sexually harassing former staffers, including spending more than $27,000 from his taxpayer-funded office budget to pay off a woman who said she was sacked for resisting his sexual advances.

Conyers, who denies the allegations, said in a statement he wanted to stay on the committee but did not want to undermine his colleagues as he faces an ethics investigation.

Two other Democrats, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chairman of the largest group of congressional liberals, have said Conyers should step aside from his leadership role on the Judiciary committee.

"We are strengthened by due process".

In a statement Sunday, Conyers said he looks forward to vindication. "I can not in good conscience allow these charges to undermine my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, and my friends on both sides of the aisle in the Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement today following Conyers' announcement that "Zero tolerance means consequences".

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The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Conyers' conduct following the reports.

"John Conyers is an icon in our country", she said.

Pelosi's defense of Conyers came just minutes after she acknowledged there was a "generational change" in the way sexual harassment allegations are treated, and praised women for increasingly confronting harassers. "He has done a great deal to protect women".

He has rejected calls for his resignation and so has the House's top Democrat - for now. "The fact is, as John reviews his case - which he knows, which I don't - I believe he will do the right thing".

Members of Congress have complained about the "due process" system, saying it is outdated and biased toward insulating lawmakers from suffering penalties for misconduct.

Conyers added, "I would urge them to continue to do so for any Member accused of wrongdoing".

Anita Hill - the lawyer who famously told Congress in 1991 that her then-boss, Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her after he was nominated to the Supreme Court - also discussed on the NBC show how more women were opening up about their experiences. "I commend the fearless women coming forward".

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