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27 November 2017, 12:56 | Darrell Baldwin
Bill Clark CQPHO
Democrat Rep. John Conyers of Mich., who faces allegations of sexual harassment, said he is stepping aside as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee while an ethics investigation is pending.
Conyers said Sunday he was stepping down because he didn't want the accusations against him to undermine his "colleagues in the Democratic Caucus".
Buzzfeedreported on November 20 that Conyers had reached a settlement that exceeded $27,000 with a former staffer who alleged that the congressman had sexually harassed her and she was sacked because she rejected his advances.The following day, Buzzfeed reported that another of Conyers' former staffers had tried to sue him for making sexual overtures toward her and creating a hostile work environment, but the former staffer withdrew the claim when the court would not let the complaint remain sealed.
The ex-staffer said she was sacked because she had rejected his sexual advances.
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.
Pelosi continued that she was confident Conyers would "do the right thing" as his case is reviewed, but stopped short of referencing resignation.
But separately, she tweeted, in reference to Conyers, that "no matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment".
The Senate has already approved a measure requiring all senators, staff and interns to be trained on preventing sexual harassment.
Asked if she would be satisfied were Franken to apologize, rather than resign, Pelosi told NBC, "Right. And a good deal of that would be done by the Judiciary Committee". Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the second most senior Democratic member of committee, issued a statement as well.
"To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member", he said. "We say zero tolerance, but I don't believe that we put our money where our mouths are".
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who sponsored legislation to overhaul the system by which sexual complaints are made and settled on Capitol Hill, said Congress must show a greater commitment to addressing sexual misconduct.
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