Conyers Says He'll 'Step Aside' From Judiciary Panel Amid Harassment Claims

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"After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me", Mr Conyers said in a statement, he is stepping aside on the Judiciary panel "during the investigation of these matters".

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dodged questions about whether Rep. John Conyers should resign following revelations that he settled a 2015 complaint with a former staffer who claimed she was sacked after refusing his sexual advances. But he says he "cannot in good conscience" allow the charges to be an undue distraction to his House colleagues while the investigation is continuing.

When asked in an interview with Chuck Todd on "Meet The Press" whether Conyers should step aside, the California Democrat instead praised the longtime MI lawmaker, citing his work on the Violence Against Women Act as an example of his respect for women. "We must ensure the Congress has a climate of dignity and respect with zero tolerance for sexual harassment". "Just because someone is accused - and was it one accusation?"

Conyers said the allegations were "raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger" and looks "forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics".

"I have asked for an ethics investigation, and as that investigation continues, Congressman Conyers has agreed to step aside as Ranking Member", Pelosi said.

The Latest on Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

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Unlike Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, who has apologized for harassing and groping a woman in 2005, Conyers has vehemently denied allegations of sexual harassment.

One of the loudest proponents of sexual harassment reform - Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) - called the Conyers' allegations "very serious".

The California Democrat noted that the House in the coming week will vote on requiring anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members and their staffs.

"I have come to believe that my presence as Ranking Member on the Committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending", he said.

Earlier Sunday morning, Pelosi stressed the importance of "due process", and said she believed Conyers would do the right thing.

MI congressman John Conyers is giving up his leadership position as top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

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