Nancy Pelosi: John Conyers deserves 'due process'

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Nancy Pelosi Says John Conyers Entitled to 'Due Process' in Sexual Misconduct Allegations

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

The news came shortly after the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, was widely criticised for calling the 88-year-old an "icon" because of his work in the civil rights movement.

"After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside", said Conyers in a written statement on Sunday. But he says he "cannot in good conscience" allow the charges to be an undue distraction to his House colleagues while the investigation is continuing. The congressman said the payment was comparable to a severance package and denies the allegations against him.

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.

Conyers' office recently confirmed issuing a more than $27,000 settlement to a former staffer who alleges she was sacked for resisting Conyers' sexual advances. She said Conyers is an "icon in this country" who through his work in Congress "has done a great deal to protect women".

Conyers, who has served in Congress since the 1960s, has been embattled since a BuzzFeed report this week.

On NBC's Meet the Press, Ms Pelosi was asked whether Mr Conyers should resign.

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Conyers, whose MI district includes half of Detroit, is the last member of either house of Congress to have served under President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s.

"Zero tolerance means consequences", Pelosi said. "Any credible accusation must be reviewed by the Ethics Committee expeditiously", Ms Pelosi said.

"We are at a watershed moment on this issue, and no matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment", she added.

He has rejected calls for his resignation and so has the House's top Democrat - for now.

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. Al Franken of Minnesota and Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore also are the subject of accusations.

"I believe he understands what is at stake here and he will do the right thing", she said.

"This is about going forward", she said.

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