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Democratic rep: Pelosi ‘ceded the moral high ground’ on sexual harassment with Conyers defense

One Democratic member of Congress said Wednesday that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) set women back “decades” when she praised Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) on a Sunday news program. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A Democratic member of Congress told reporters Wednesday that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi set women back “decades” when she praised Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) as an “icon” as he faces sexual misconduct allegations.

What did Pelosi say?

During a Sunday interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," host Chuck Todd asked Pelosi about the allegations against Conyers and what the consequences for his behavior should be.

“We are strengthened by due process,” Pelosi replied. “Just because someone is accused — and was it one accusation? Is it two? I think there has to be — John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women — Violence Against Women Act, which the left — right-wing — is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that, and he did great work on that. But the fact is, as John reviews his case, which he knows, which I don’t, I believe he will do the right thing.”


It wasn’t just the “right wing” that took issue with Pelosi’s remarks — she was also criticized by left-leaning outlets such as Vox. The controversy forced Pelosi to release a statement saying that “no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment.”

What did the lawmaker say?

According to Politico, during remarks to reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), said that the highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber “ceded the moral high ground” on sexual harassment during the interview.

“I think that her comments on Sunday set women back and — quite frankly, our party back — decades,” said Rice, who has called on Conyers to resign.

“I think that we ceded the moral high ground on Sunday when our leader said on ‘Meet the Press’ that John Conyers was an icon and we don’t even know who these women are when she was fully aware that the woman in question was bound by a nondisclosure agreement,” Rice said.

Rice said the Democratic Party had previously been in a position to “stake that moral high ground” due to President Donald Trump’s support for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl when he was in his early 30’s.

In response, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, told Politico that “the leader was very clear on Sunday that no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it’s not a license for harassment.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is also facing sexual harassment allegations.

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