House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee Tuesday asking that they expedite their investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), calling it a “watershed moment.” Previously on Sunday, Pelosi called Conyers an “icon” who deserves “due process” but then walked that back on Monday, even saying she believes one of the women accusing him of misconduct.
"I know the demands on staff and resources can at times be overstretched," Pelosi wrote to the Ethics Committee. "Should you need any additional resources to fairly and swiftly pursue these investigations, please make that need known."
"We are at a watershed moment for our country in the fight against sexual harassment and discrimination," Pelosi emphasized in her letter. "The Committee on Ethics has a great responsibility to proceed expeditiously as well as fairly into any investigation of credible harassment and discrimination allegations.
Pelosi released a statement Monday about a conversation she had with a former staffer of Conyers who accused him of harassment.
“This afternoon, I spoke with Melanie Sloan who worked for Congressman Conyers on the Judiciary Committee in the mid-1990s,” Pelosi wrote. “Ms. Sloan told me that she had publicly discussed distressing experiences while on his staff. I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing. I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me.”
“Ms. Sloan, as a respected ethics expert and attorney also gave me valuable feedback into the substantive reforms many of us in Congress are advocating to foster a climate of respect and dignity, and to protect legislative branch employees,” she added.
Buzzfeed initially reported that Conyers’ office paid more than $27,000 in 2015 to settle a complaint of sexual harassment. A second woman also accused Conyers of unwanted sexual advances in 2015 and 2016.
Conyers admitted to the settlement last week but said that his office "resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation."
He added that he was "expressly and vehemently" denying any wrongdoing.
When initially asked about the allegations against Conyers, Pelosi said Sunday, “We are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused -- and was it one accusation, was it two? I think there has to be. John Conyers is an icon in our country. He's done a great deal to protect women.”