Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) has agreed to step away from his leadership post as ranking member of the powerful Senate Judiciary committee while he is being investigated by the Ethics Committee over allegations of sexual misconduct.
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, Sen. Al Franken (D-Mich.) apologized once again for conduct he said he was ashamed of and planned to learn from.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the Conyers move in a tweet Sunday (Nov. 26), saying:
Zero tolerance means consequences. I have asked for an ethics investigation, and as that investigation continues, @RepJohnConyers has agreed to step aside as Ranking Member. No matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment. pic.twitter.com/H5ikWy1iqT
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 26, 2017
"We must ensure the Congress has a climate of dignity and respect with zero tolerance for sexual harassment," she said.
There are multiple allegations against Conyers, who admitted to having paid to settle a sexual harassment complaint, but admitted no wrongdoing and said it had been settled to avoid the legal fight.
"I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger," he said Sunday. "I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics. Conyers also tweeted thanks Sunday to those, which had included Pelosi, who called for due process before "weighing judgment."
He tweeted that should be the case for any member of Congress accused of wrongdoing.
I am grateful to my colleagues who have called for due process before weighing judgment. I would urge them to continue to do so for any Member accused of wrongdoing. Basic fairness requires no less.
— John Conyers, Jr. (@RepJohnConyers) November 26, 2017
Conyers said his presence as ranking member would not serve the interests of Democrats battling a President whose actions daily cheapen public discourse and that he did not want the charges against him to undermine his colleagues as they fight that battle.
Separately, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), also facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, said Monday (Nov. 27) on his return to the Capitol from the Thanksgiving break, he had let a lot of people down, both his constituents and staff and "everyone who had counted on me to be a champion for women."
He apologized again, but said he was ready to regain their trust. The senator reiterated that he remembered some things differently from his accusers, but said you "have to accept women's experience."
Franken He said he took thousands of pictures and did not remember the instances invoked by his accusers--of groping them while phots were being taken. But he also said it was clear that some women feel he has done something disrespectful. He apologized repeatedly and said he would have to be much more careful and sensitive, "so this won't happen again."