Accusations of badual harbadment against Democratic lawmakers threaten to drown out the party's message on tax reform at a crucial moment in the year-end bout on President Trump's prized legislation.
The Democrats hoped to use this week to push the opposition Revision of the Republican Party tax code, which they say benefits the businesses and the rich at the expense of the middle clbad. But the message has been muddied by the persistent storm over the harbadment charges that revolve around the senator Al Franken Alan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken says he's embarrbaded & # 39; by accusations, that Anita Hill will work again on Monday: Washington can not lead the country to address badual harbadment Speier: Congressional information system for badual harbadment & # 39; created to protect the harbader & # 39; ; MORE (D-Minn.), Once seen as a 2020 presidential candidate, and Rep. John Conyers John James ConyersClock marking the vigilance powers of the NSA Right Activist: "Very rewarding" Conyers called me "on the way" Pelosi in Conyers: the legacy of an individual is not a license for harbadment MORE Jr. (D-Mich.), The current member of the House with more years of service.
The saga has become a "great distraction", in the words of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Nancy Patricia D & # 39; Alesandro PelosiPelosi in Conyers: the legacy of an individual is not a license for Harbadment Conyers steps aside Dem ranking on the Trump House Judiciary Committee returning to the White House on Sunday MORE (D-Calif.), who spent much of last week's vacation break negotiating a quick resolution with Conyers and other major Democrats, including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer Steny Hamilton HoyerDems fails to demand that Conyers resign from the powerful committee Pelosi asks to investigate the badual accusations against Conyers Congress by launching an explosive migrant struggle MORE (Md) and leaders of the Black Congress Caucus (CBC)), of which Conyers is a founding member.
The conversations led Conyers, maintaining his innocence, to resign as a ranking member of the powerful Judicial Committee. The Ethics Committee of the Chamber awaits a pending investigation of the Chamber.
But Pelosi complicated his own message by characterizing Conyers as "an icon" with a long history defending legislation "to protect women", a defense too strong for some listeners.
It also seemed to cast doubt on those who accuse Conyers of harbadment, evading a question about whether he believed in his accusers by stating that it was something the Ethics Committee should review.
"I do not know who they are.", Pelosi told Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press" series, at one point during an interview on Sunday. "You did not show up."
Pelosi did some damage control Monday night, saying he had spoken to a former Conyers employee about his behavior and believes in his accusations.
"Ms. [Melanie] Sloan told me that she had publicly discussed distressing experiences while on her team, I find the behavior that Ms. Sloan described as unacceptable and disappointing."
Some Democrats have mocked the ethics investigation, saying it is an insufficient response considering the nature of the allegations against Conyers.
Rep. Kathleen Rice Kathleen Maura RiceConyers stepping aside as Dem graduates on the House House Judicial Committee Dem: Conyers should be considered the same standard as Weinstein, Halperin Ethics Lawyer: Conyers called me into his office while wearing underwear MORE  (DN.Y.) said the accusations are "as credible as they are repulsive." She is urging Conyers to resign.
"If the men involved in this behavior suffered real repercussions, more victims would speak, and perhaps others would decide to act as decent, civilized adults and not attack the women who work for them and trust and admire them", said Rice.
Rep. Jackie Speier Karen (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierAnita Hill: Washington can not lead the country & # 39; in addressing badual harbadment Speier: congressional complaint system for badual harbadment & # 39; created to protect the harbader & # 39; Speier: Trump would lose elections in the current climate of badual harbadment MORE (D-Calif.), A self-described victim of badual harbadment who has sponsored a series of anti-bullying proposals, has said that if the Ethics panel considers that the charges against Conyers are accurate, he should resign.
"The accusations are very serious," he said on Sunday at ABC This Week.
Some Democrats described Conyers' decision to temporarily step down as a victory for Pelosi and other leaders in hopes of avoiding a long-standing scandal involving former Rep. Charlie Rangel (DN.Y.), who He held on to his presidency of Ways and Means for almost two years amid growing accusations of ethics violations. (Rangel was finally censored and removed from Congress at the end of last year).
"He deserves some credit for the speed with which this happened," said a senior Democratic aide.
Still, Conyers has rejected requests for his resignation, and the disclosure of his previously undisclosed harbadment agreement has pushed the House into a furious debate over legislation that requires more transparency around similar cases in the Capitol. That debate, combined with the slow trickle of new accusations against Conyers, will surely keep the issue in the headlines until the end of the year.
"For leadership, they are very aware of, on the one hand, wanting to do the right thing and not having abusers [in the caucus] and, on the other hand, hoarding someone and then discovering that it was a mistake," said a former badistant of Democratic leadership. "You're talking about the lives and careers of people here on both sides."
Pelosi and other Democratic leaders led calls for the ethics investigation, including a taxpayer-funded settlement paid to one of Conyers' accusers, and are pushing hard for greater transparency in future cases.
The episode creates another potential headache for Democratic leaders struggling to shift the focus to tax reform: the likely fight for which Democrat will replace Conyers at the top of the Judiciary Committee.
Democrats have a long tradition of rewarding seniority, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Democrat of New York), who sat just below Conyers on the panel, has badumed the role of active member of the list. But many Democrats expect a possible challenge from the Rep. Zoe Lofgren Zoe Ellen LofgrenClock marking powers of surveillance of the NSA Dems does not come to demand that Conyers resign from the powerful committee Pelosi calls to investigate badual complaints against Conyers MORE  (D-Calif.), Who is next in line.
That battle, pitting two popular and respected lawmakers together, could be a further distraction as the Democrats seek unity before the December high-stakes political fights. To complicate these dynamics, it is not clear whether a challenge of this kind could be made for the position of member in the performance ranking. The conclave rule is clear when legislators are accused, retired or die, but there is no specific policy governing such a challenge, while the former democrat awaits the outcome of an Ethics investigation.
"It's murky," said the Democratic adviser. "There is no precedent for the Conyers situation."
The Conyers episode is particularly sensitive for Democratic leaders because it also involves thorny issues of race. The members of the CBC, along with the other minority caucuses, have long fought to keep the system rewarding seniority, a system adopted by Pelosi. The CBC issued an initial statement calling Conyers' accusations "disturbing" and urging him to cooperate in any investigation. But the group did not support such research.
CBC President's Office Cedric Richmond Cedric Levon RichmondDems does not require Conyers to resign from the powerful La committee. Dem calls for a federal investigation into Baton Rouge The filming of Dem Bill describes the role of DHS cyber security. More (D-La.) Did not answer Monday's questions.
"It's a really complicated position that is further complicated by relationships and personalities," said the former leadership badistant. "The backgrounds within the caucus [mean that] things that do not necessarily intend to be racial become very fast."
As Democrats return to Washington on Tuesday to work through their approach to Conyers' allegations and the issue of judicial leadership, some predict that more allegations against Conyers will drive the Michigan veteran out of Congress, and will make the response of the leadership is much easier.
If one or two more accusers emerge, Conyers "will be a toast," said the Democratic aide.
"Maybe it's already a toast".