Nancy Pelosi, the House Democrats leader, backtracked on her previous defense of Michigan Rep. John Conyers, who has been accused of sexually harassing and misconduct by at least five women.
In a statement on Monday, Nancy said that she spoke with the high-profile Washington, D.C. lawyer Melanie Sloan who last week alleged that John harassed and verbally abused her in the 1990s, including an instance where he called her for a meeting to his office in his underwear.
Nancy Pelosi Backtracks on Defense of John Conyers: 'Unacceptable and Disappointing'
Nancy said in the statement:
I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing. I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me.
She further added:
I have not had the opportunity to speak with the other women, one of whom cannot speak publicly because of the secretive settlement process in place. That ridiculous system must be ended and victims who want to come forward to the Ethics Committee must be able to do so.
77-year-old Nancy’s comments are a sharp contrast to her previous remarks on John’s allegations. She told Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that John said the system was “strengthened by due process” before turning to praise him.
She told Chuck:
John Conyers is an icon in our country. 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.
Her remarks generated angry reaction online, many of which accused Nancy of being tone-deaf and hypocritical in a post-Weinstein world.
That same day, John announced that he was stepping down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee as the House investigates the claims of sexual harassment against him.
He said in a statement:
I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger. I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.