- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 30, 2017

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi turned against Rep. John Conyers Jr. on Thursday and told him to quit Congress immediately, as sexual harassment allegations continued to build against the chamber’s longest-serving member.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and a growing list of other Republicans and Democrats also called on Mr. Conyers, Michigan Democrat, to step down now, saying his continued presence is an embarrassment for an institution trying to claim leadership amid the new national conversation over workplace harassment.

But Mr. Conyers signaled he’s not ready to cave, and his lawyer said the 52-year congressman won’t be cowed by Mrs. Pelosi or anyone else.

The fight has sparked deep divisions within the coalition that fuels the Democratic Party, with some black lawmakers rallying around Mr. Conyers, who is black, even as Democratic women led the push for him to go.

Mrs. Pelosi, who over the weekend seemed to defend Mr. Conyers, has now joined the fiercest of his critics, saying he’s become a symbol of the bad behavior Capitol Hill is trying to rid itself of.

“I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign,” the California Democrat told reporters. “Zero tolerance means consequences for everyone; no matter how great the legacy, it’s no license to harass or discriminate. In fact, it makes it even more disappointing.”

Mr. Ryan told reporters he’d just been briefed on a “torrent of allegations” about Mr. Conyers earlier Thursday and agreed it was time for the man known as the dean of the House to go.

“I think he should resign immediately,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Conyers has denied the accusations, and his attorney said the congressman isn’t going to cave to his party leader’s demands.

Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman, and she sure as hell won’t be the one to tell the congressman to leave,” Arnold Reed told reporters at a press conference in Detroit.

Mr. Conyers missed work on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as his colleagues voted to adopt new anti-harassment training procedures. Instead, he was back home checking into a hospital for what aides called “stress-related” ailments.

He has given up his position as top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, but his lawyer said he has no plans to resign, save for health concerns. He has, though, decided not to seek re-election next year, according to Detroit press reports.

The debate over Mr. Conyers‘ future has been painful for Democrats, many of whom revere him as a civil rights icon, but have been appalled by the tales of the women who have come forward.

Others are also being caught in the conversation.

Rep. Joe Barton, a senior Republican from Texas, decided not to seek re-election next year amid his own sexually tinged scandal. Though he has not been accused of harassment, an apparent nude photo of Mr. Barton as well as explicit messages have been leaked in recent days — in what the congressman described as an incident of “revenge porn.”

“There are enough people who lost faith in me that it’s time to step aside and let there be a new voice for the 6th District in Washington, so I am not going to run for re-election,” Mr. Barton told the Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, faced new accusers.

An Army veteran said Mr. Franken, who was a comedian at the time, touched her inappropriately during a photo-op while he was doing a USO tour to entertain American troops in 2003.

“When he put his arm around me, he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast,” Stephanie Kemplin told CNN.

Yet another woman told the feminist website Jezebel that Mr. Franken tried to give her “a wet, open-mouthed kiss” after she appeared on a radio show with him in 2006. That woman, who was not identified, is the sixth public accuser.

Mr. Conyers faces an ethics investigation over his behavior and top senators have said Mr. Franken should also face one. The senator has said he would welcome such a probe.

• Bradford Richardson contributed to this article.

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