After backlash for partly defending “American icon” Democratic Rep. John Conyers amid multiple sexual harassment allegations, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) now says she “believes” one of his accusers.
Pelosi announced her new position on the accuser of the embattled congressman in a press release Monday night. Though she had previously called for “due process” and an ethics investigation before any judgment on Conyers be allowed, she says in the statement that after meeting with accuser Melanie Sloan, she thinks her claims are true.
Below is the full statement Pelosi issued Monday night:
This afternoon, I spoke with Melanie Sloan who worked for Congressman Conyers on the Judiciary Committee in the mid-1990s. Ms. Sloan told me that she had publicly discussed distressing experiences while on his staff. I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing. I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me.
Ms. Sloan, as a respected ethics expert and attorney, also gave me valuable feedback into the substantive reforms many of us in Congress are advocating to foster a climate of respect and dignity, and to protect legislative branch employees.
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.
In an interview with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” Sunday, Pelosi struggled to respond to Todd’s pointed questions on the Conyers accusations. Instead of insisting on the necessity of “believing” the accusers, as she has done in the past, she called for “due process,” citing Conyers’ status as an “American icon” as one of the reasons he deserved to be given the benefit of the doubt. Pelosi even went on to raise doubts about some of the allegations, noting that some of the women have not “come forward,” despite having reportedly reached settlements with the congressman.