Nancy Pelosi: John Conyers deserves 'due process'

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"After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters", Conyers said. "She and I will fully cooperate with any investigation into this matter".

Pelosi continued that she was confident Conyers would "do the right thing" as his case is reviewed, but stopped short of referencing resignation.

Conyers, 88, is now subject to a House Ethics Committee investigation after the Detroit Democrat was accused of sexually harassing former staffers, including spending more than $27,000 from his taxpayer-funded office budget to pay off a woman who said she was sacked for resisting his sexual advances.

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

When asked specifically whether she believes the accusations against Conyers, Pelosi said, "I do not know who they are".

"I have come to believe that my presence as ranking member on the committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending", he said.

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Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press prior to Conyers' announcement on Sunday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called for "due process" before issuing a penalty over the allegations.

Melanie Sloan, a lawyer who worked with Conyers on the House Judiciary Committee, has also stepped forward to accuse Conyers of being "increasingly abusive" to her, behavior she says wasn't "sexual harassment" but "sexual discrimination".

When pressed again, she replied that the review was under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee.

The California Democrat noted that the House in the coming week will vote on requiring anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all members and their staffs. Al Franken, D-Minn., is also facing allegations that he touched women inappropriately. "They have not really come forward", Pelosi said. And that's very important. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the second most senior Democratic member of committee, issued a statement as well.

"To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member", he added.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who sponsored legislation to overhaul the system by which sexual complaints are made and settled on Capitol Hill, agreed that Congress needs to show a greater commitment to addressing sexual misconduct. "That is women are saying zero tolerance, no more, and we're going to speak out on it".