“Pelosi is not leading the effort but is tacitly supporting it”
With today’s revelation of yet another Representative John Conyers’ (D-MI) staffer alleging sexual harassment, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is reportedly in talks with Conyers about his resigning from Congress. Of note, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is quietly supporting the move.
Several Congressional Black Caucus members are in talks to get veteran Rep. John Conyers to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct, several Democratic sources told CNN on Tuesday.
Those members are trying to ease his exit without trampling on his legacy during his 50-plus years in the House. Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, is the longest currently serving member of the House of Representatives.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is not leading the effort but is tacitly supporting it, according to Democratic sources.
A staffer to a member of the Congressional Black Caucus told CNN that “there is a feeling among some of our members that we need to protect his legacy,” noting that Conyers is a founding member of the group and was a leading figure in the civil rights movement.
The concern for “protecting his legacy” by Democrat leaders is not a key issue amongst younger Democrats.
The New York Times notes that there is a generational divide among Democrats regarding the proper way to handle Conyers’ alleged sexual misconduct.
Sexual assault, harassment and other vulgarities have rocked Hollywood, scarred Silicon Valley and darkened media offices from New York to Washington. But the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Mr. Conyers, the longest serving member of the House, has highlighted schisms that are as much about generations as they are about gender.
Especially among Democrats, Mr. Conyers’s troubles have generated friction between the party’s aging leadership and rank-and-file, and underscored the difficulty that newer members of the House have in rising up in a system where leadership positions, including committee chairmanships, are determined almost solely by seniority.
The three top Democrats in the House — Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina — are all in their late 70s. Mr. Conyers has been the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee — either as chairman or ranking member — for 10 years.
And for many of them, the response to the Conyers imbroglio has been telling. Mr. Conyers has denied all the charges, but under pressure, did relinquish his post. Mr. Clyburn suggested that for all he knew, “all of this could be made up.”
Ms. Pelosi, the minority leader, swiftly called for an ethics investigation last week after news broke that two aides had accused Mr. Conyers of sexual harassment, and that he had paid a settlement to one. By Tuesday afternoon, she was working quietly behind the scenes with Congressional Black Caucus members who were trying to persuade Mr. Conyers to resign, according to a senior Democratic aide. His lawyer said he had no immediate plans to do so.
But her path to that point has been meandering. Ms. Pelosi offered an awkward defense of Mr. Conyers on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, saying, “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.” That earned her scathing reviews.
Melanie Sloan, a respected ethics lawyer in Washington who worked for Mr. Conyers in the mid-1990s, was so incensed by the performance that she called Ms. Pelosi’s staff and reminded them that Mr. Conyers had verbally abused her and had once summoned her to his office while he was wearing his underwear. That prompted Ms. Pelosi to switch course again.
“I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing,” she said in a statement. “I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me.”
Pelosi’s waffling, however, is not sitting well with rank-and-file Democrat House members who want Conyers to resign immediately. The NYT observes that “Younger Democrats have been far less equivocal than their leaders. Representatives Kathleen Rice of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington say Mr. Conyers should resign.”
It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Representative Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Rep. Conyers must resign. pic.twitter.com/5RJUmEuRNf
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) November 28, 2017
The writing is on the wall, and Conyers is not going to be able to stay in the House. He will have to resign, and both the “old” and “new” Democrats will take credit for his ouster . . . setting the stage for still more Democrat division and more attention centered on Senator Al Franken (D-MN) who is fighting for his political life with surprisingly little help from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
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