Rep. John Conyers steps down amid sexual harassment investigation


The first outcome since the discussion of sexual harassment in Congress began has come as Rep. John Conyers has stepped down from his position as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. But he also said he's giving up the seat reluctantly.

Conyers, a longtime Michigan Democrat, is now embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, amid reports that he secretly reached a settlement with a former female staffer.

Conyers has acknowledged that his office settled a harassment complaint involving a former staffer but denies the allegations against him.

Pelosi said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that there may be a close look at the 88-year-old MI lawmaker's status as the top member on the House Judiciary Committee.

"Was it two?" Pelosi said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press".

The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Conyers' conduct following the reports.

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

But separately, she tweeted, in reference to Conyers, that "no matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment".

Pelosi, the leader of the House Democrats and a former Speaker, opened herself up to fierce criticism and outcry Sunday when she failed to call for Conyers' resignation, instead referring to him as an "icon" and suggesting that his accusers "haven't really come forward".

Conyers has admitted to making the payment to avoid public litigation, but has denied any sexual harassment claims. "We also have to address it for every person, every workplace in the country, not just in the Congress of the United States".

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is the next most-senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee after Conyers, the only African-American to have held the position of chairman or ranking member on the panel.

Conyers said in his statement today, "I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member". Last month, she shared her own story of being sexually assaulted by a high-level aide while she was a staffer. "We say zero tolerance, but I don't believe that we put our money where our mouths are".