House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on Rep. John Conyers to resign following allegations of sexual harassment against the Michigan Democrat.
“The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday are serious, disappointing and very credible,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference. “It’s very sad and the brave women who came forward are owed justice. I will pray for Congressman Conyers and his family, and wish them well. However Congressman Conyers should resign.”
The California Democrat added, “No matter how great a legacy there’s no license to harass or discriminate. In fact it makes it even more disappointing.”
Conyers, 88, is the longest currently serving member of the US House of Representatives.
Pelosi isn’t the only Democrat calling on Conyers to go. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the assistant Democratic leader and highest-ranking African American in the House, is now also calling on Conyers to resign, according to a source close to Clyburn.
“He said it’s in Conyers best interest,” the source told CNN.
Earlier this week, Clyburn and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Conyers to discuss the allegations from former aides that he sexually harassed them. In the last couple of days Clyburn has waved off questions from reporters about whether the Michigan Democrat should go, but is now joining Pelosi and other House Democrats, in the call for him to step aside.
Conyers’ attorney, Arnold Reed, responded to Pelosi’s comments by saying the congressman wouldn’t resign and comparing the accusations against Conyers with those against Democratic Sen. Al Fraken of Minnesota, who has been accused by five women in the past two weeks of inappropriate touching.
“She’s gotta explain what the discernible difference between Congressman Conyers and Sen. Al Franken is,” he said, noting that Franken has multiple accusers and photos.
Later at a news conference, Reed said, “It is not up to Nancy Pelosi. … She sure as hell won’t be the one telling the congressman to leave.”
Conyers is facing several allegations of sexual harassment. The House Ethics Committee announced last week it has opened an investigation into allegations against Conyers after BuzzFeed reported that he settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 after allegedly sexually harassing a staffer. Conyers denied wrongdoing in that case, but acknowledged that there had been a financial settlement to that complaint. Another former staffer, Deanna Maher, told CNN that Conyers made three sexual advances toward her when she worked for him in his district office in Detroit from 1997 to 2005. Through his lawyer, Conyers also denied wrongdoing in that case.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, also called on Conyers to resign.
Conyers stepped down from his post as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday. Aides told reporters that Conyers was hospitalized for stress earlier Thursday.