- Win McNamee/Getty Images
- House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer followed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in saying he believes women accusing Democratic Rep. John Conyers of harassment and verbal abuse.
- While Conyers has stepped down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, he has not resigned from his seat.
WASHINGTON – House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer believes women accusing Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat, of harassment and sexual misconduct.
“Look I think it’s very tough to come forward and make an allegation because it subjects you – obviously the victim – to very very uncomfortable, and that’s probably the lightest term you can use, and possible adverse consequences,” Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday. “So it is difficult. So I think when somebody comes forward I think they have the credibility knowing how difficult it is.”
A spokesperson for Hoyer clarified that he does believe the claims of Melanie Sloan, a former staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and other women who have come forward about Conyers. Sloan revealed to The Washington Post last week that Conyers often mistreated staff members and, on one occasion, summoned her to a private meeting when he was in only his underwear.
Hoyer saying he believes Conyer’s accusers follows House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi releasing a statement on Monday after hearing out Sloan’s accusations in a meeting.
“Ms. Sloan told me that she had publicly discussed distressing experiences while on his staff,” Pelosi said. “I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing. I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me.”
A BuzzFeed report detailed a private settlement between the 88-year-old congressman and a female staffer, prompting him to step down from his position as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee. Another woman came forward alleging Conyers sexually harassed her on multiple occassions, The Detroit News reported.
However, both Hoyer and Pelosi have not called on Conyers to resign from Congress, despite believing the claims of his accusers.
“Well I think there’s an adjudicatory process – I think that process needs to be strengthened and it needs to be accelerated and we need to protect the accuser in the process,” Hoyer said. “But I think there’s a process to get that done and I think, as I said, when that is done, and conclusions are made and there is a conclusion that in fact the allegation is correct, then I think that action needs to be held accountable.”
So far, only one House Democrat has demanded Conyers resign from Congress. New York Rep. Kathleen Rice said the harassment claims “are as credible as they are repulsive” and that Conyers should vacate his seat immediately.
But Conyers is staying in Congress, according to his attorney Arnold Reed.
“If everybody that was facing ‘allegations’ – including the President, members of the House and Senate – resigned, we’d have a lot of unemployed people walking around,” Reed said.