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Congressman steps down from top post amid sexual harassment investigation

27 November 2017

"We are at a watershed moment on this issue, and no matter how great an individual's legacy, it is not a license for harassment", Ms. Pelosi, California Democrat, said in a statement released Sunday afternoon.

Jerrold Nadler of NY, the second-ranking Democrat on the judiciary committee, said in a statement: "Conyers has a 50-year legacy of advancing the cause of justice, and my job moving forward is to continue that critical work".

BuzzFeed broke the story last week that Conyers' office had paid an accuser $27,000 to settle a complaint that she had been fired 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. John Conyers on an episode of Meet The Press. "Just because someone was accused, and was it one accusation, was it two, I think there has to be―John Conyers is an icon in our country", Pelosi said, defending the 88-year-old representative. BuzzFeed also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately - rubbing their legs and backs - or requesting sexual favors. The congressman said the payment was comparable to a severance package and denies the allegations against him. "I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics", Conyers said Sunday.

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The House Ethics Committee is investigating Conyers after receiving allegations of sexual harassment and age discrimination involving staff members as well as using "official resources for impermissible personal purposes".

He has rejected calls for his resignation and so has the House's top Democrat - for now.

At least one House Democrat, Rep. Kathleen Rice of NY, has called on Conyers to step down from Congress.

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

Conyers holds a powerful position on Capitol Hill as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Pelosi on Sunday defended what he has done as a longtime member of Congress. His decision comes ahead of a congressional probe into allegations of sexual harassment made against him. "That is women are saying zero tolerance, no more, and we're going to speak out on it".

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Congressman steps down from top post amid sexual harassment investigation