Conyers steps aside from Judiciary post amid sex allegations

Rep. John Conyers D-Mich. speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is defending Conyers as an

Rep. John Conyers D-Mich. speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is defending Conyers as an"icon for women's rights

John Conyers (D-MI) announced his intention to step aside as the ranking committee member on the powerful House Judiciary Committee following a series of sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by several women on Capitol Hill.

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.

Conyers, a longtime Michigan Democrat, is now embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, amid reports that he secretly reached a settlement with a former female staffer.

Pelosi said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that there may be a close look at the 88-year-old MI lawmaker's status as the top member on the House Judiciary Committee.

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"We are strengthened by due process", Pelosi told host Chuck Todd on "Meet The Press".

Pelosi called for an official House Ethics Committee inquiry into Conyers earlier this week, but stopped short of saying the 88-year-old lawmaker should step down. "Is it two? I think there has to be - John Conyers is an icon in our country", she said.

But separately, she tweeted, in reference to Conyers, that "no matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment". It revealed that in 2015, he reached a taxpayer-funded settlement in a female staffer's sexual harassment claim.

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.

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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. "And a good deal of that would be done by the Judiciary Committee".

"Even under these unfortunate circumstances, the important work of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee must move forward", Nadler said.

"To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member", he added. "We say zero tolerance, but I don't believe that we put our money where our mouths are".

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