House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she has a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment in a “Meet the Press” interview. She then defended Michigan Rep. John Conyers, who is accused of sexual misconduct, in the same interview.
The interview with host Chuck Todd started well enough with Pelosi praising the courageous women who came forward to report their #MeToo experiences.
“I think that something wonderful is happening now, very credible,” Pelosi said. “It's 100 years, almost 100 years, since women got the right to vote. Here we are, almost 100 years later, and something very transformative is happening. That is, women are saying, ‘Zero tolerance, no more, and we're going to speak out on it.’ And this is so wholesome, so refreshing, so different.”
However, when Todd pressed the House minority leader about Conyers — who fired a worker because she did not succumb to his sexual advances and then secretly settled her sexual harassment complaints — and asked why she did not take any actions against him, Pelosi replied with an ineloquent answer that would have seemed more suitable coming from the mouth of a sexual assault sympathizer.
“We are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused and… was it one accusation, is it two… I think there has to be. John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women,” she said. “The Violence Against Women Act — which the left-wing…right-wing is now quoting me as praising him — first worked on that and he did great work on that.”
When asked if she believes the women, Pelosi replied, “I do not know who they are. Do you? They have not really come forward.”
“I believe that he will do the right thing. He will do the right things in terms of what he knows about his situation, that he’s entitles to due process,” she added. “I believe he understands what’s at stake here and he will do the right thing.”
There are so many things wrong with Pelosi’s statements.
First, the House minority leader belittles the plight of sexual assault victims, going as far as to make it sound she actually sympathizes with the sexual assault perpetrator. Her statement about how many women came up to speak against Conyers speaks volume about how she does not think Conyers is a sexual predator for simply harassing one woman, considering the multiple numbers of women assaulted by big names in Hollywood and the U.S. Congress.
She also withheld her judgment when she kept insisting Conyers be subjected to due process. Though as Todd pointed out, the Michigan representative has already been through due process, which resulted in him providing his accuser with a settlement. Pelosi did not explain what kind of due process Conyers would need yet again.
Pelosi also implied the politician was not such a bad person since he worked for women’s rights and had helped create the Violence Against Women Act. Basically, he is an “icon” in America who works to protect women, so how could he harm one?
She also said the woman who accused Conyers had not come forward. Actually she did when she filed a complaint against Conyers three years ago — and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for $27,000, according to an exclusive interview by BuzzFeed.
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she told the media outlet.
Also, according to Pelosi, Conyers is such a paragon of virtue — never mind the fact that he relentlessly pursued a woman for sexual favors — that she trusted him to do the “right thing.”
Shortly after the interview, Conyers did decide to step down from his position on the House Judiciary Committee. According to a Democratic congressional aide, Pelosi had already been trying to push Conyers for resignation.
Senior Dem House aide says Conyers committee chair resignation was at work before Pelosi’s MTP appearance pic.twitter.com/0arpDBOAF9— Sam Stein (@samstein) November 26, 2017
If that is true, why didn’t Pelosi inform Todd she was already doing something to bring justice? Perhaps, the House minority leader simply did not want to upset members of her caucus. However, by Pelosi’s own admission, the system of deferring to those who are in power and punishing them privately instead of making an example of them should be changed.
But when push came to shove, Pelosi herself attempted to deal with it behind the scenes.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: REUTERS, Aaron P. Bernstein