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Nancy Pelosi: John Conyers should resign

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"He should resign," Pelosi told reporters. (Graeme Jennings/Examiner)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday that Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., should resign from Congress in the face of a growing list sexual harassment accusations.

"The allegations against Congressman Conyers, as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible. It's very sad," Pelosi said during her weekly press conference Thursday morning. "The brave women who came forward are owed justice."

"I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family, and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign," Pelosi said.

Pelosi praised Conyers' contributions to the House during his more than five decades in the House, where he is the most senior member. But she said that doesn't outweigh his actions.

"Zero tolerance means consequences for everyone, no matter how great the legacy. It's no license to harass or discriminate," Pelosi said. "In fact, it makes it even more disappointing."

When asked to clarify, Pelosi reiterated that Conyers "should resign."

Four women have accused Conyers of sexual harassment and making unwanted advances against them.

Pelosi's resignation call came after she originally declined to go that far. On Sunday, she labeled Conyers an "icon" of the country just before he stepped down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

She also received some blowback from House members such as Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y. after the topic was not discussed at length during the House Democratic caucus' weekly meeting on Wednesday. Rice argued that Pelosi had set women back "decades" by not confronting the allegations more forcefully.

Rice, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. had previously called for Conyers resignation. Grisham, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said Conyers should resign moments before Pelosi on Thursday.

"I do think a resignation is the better course of action," Grisham said. "These issues require a strong dramatic response if you want a culture shift."

The Congressional Black Caucus, though, has resisted calling for his ouster as of Wednesday afternoon. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., the group's chairman, said that the CBC is "not urging" Conyers to resign while the Michigan Democrat remained with his family in his district. However, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., the highest ranking African-American Democrat in Congress, called for Conyers to resign soon after Pelosi's announcement.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also said that Conyers should step down.

Conyers was hospitalized on Thursday morning due to stress.