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Pelosi changes tune, says Conyers should resign amid sexual harassment allegations

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) should resign from Congress amid sexual harassment accusations. (Image source: Twitter video screenshot)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Thursday that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) should resign from Congress amid sexual harassment allegations.

Multiple women have accused the 88-year-old Conyers of sexual harassment in the workplace. Pelosi previously came under fire for calling Conyers an “icon” in the wake of the allegations.

What did Pelosi say?

At her weekly news conference, Pelosi said that “the allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing, and very credible.”

“It’s very sad,” Pelosi said. “The brave women who came forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign.”

Pelosi went on to praise Conyers' “five decades” of service and his work to shape “some of the most consequential legislation of the last half century.”

“However, zero tolerance means consequences,” she said. “For everyone. No matter how great the legacy, it’s no license to harass or discriminate. In fact, it makes it even more disappointing.”

Pelosi praised the House for approving a resolution mandating sexual harassment and discrimination training.

“Again, we will all work together to lead the fight against sexual harassment and abuse,” she said. “Not only in Congress, but in every workplace across the country everywhere in our country.”

Pelosi said it is “a new day” for victims of sexual harassment and assault.

“And the courage of the women coming forward is something that is making a big difference. But also the attitude in the country, which I think some of it springs from the election of Donald Trump as president.”

Asked for if she had relayed her belief that Conyers should resign to him, Pelosi replied, “I’m saying that to you right now.”

What did Pelosi initially say?

Asked about the allegations against Conyers during a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Pelosi replied, “we are strengthened by due process.”

“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,” she said. “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 criticized Pelosi’s comment — Vox critiqued her, as did Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), who said that Pelosi’s remark “set women back.”

Pelosi later released a statement saying that “no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment.”

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