Sunday on “CNN Newsroom,” Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was right when she called Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) an “icon” amid the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Partial transcript as follows:
WHITFIELD: You said you think he should step down as a result of the allegations—in your view, is that enough for now?
MEEKS: I think that John Conyers is an — no question his service in the United States Congress has made America a better place. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for the service of John Conyers. That being said, I think it is appropriate that while there is an ethics investigation in regards to the scenario with him and whether or not someone was sexually harassed, that he remains in Congress but should not be as a ranking member until such time that this case has been resolved. Should it be resolved and it is, as he said, that basically was a severance pay et cetera, then I think there should be opportunity for him to go back. Until that happens and until we know the full facts I think we should give Mr. Conyers and Mr. Franken and any other member of Congress those opportunities and see whether or not it is a practice and pattern. As we have seen with regards to Mr. Moore and/or open admission by the president of the United States, who said he felt entitled because he was a celebrity that he could grab women wherever he wanted to. That is something that came out of the mouth of the president himself.
WHITFIELD: Do you see the standards or how these allegations are being handled differently? You bring up the president, who admitted to it. The American people still elected him president. You hear a number of voters, members in Congress who say allegations being lodged against members of Congress from this point forward should be taken so seriously to the point that perhaps they should step down even before allegations are proven, if allegations are credible, then that alone merits perhaps members of Congress stepping down.
MEEKS: I think that some of that is overblown. I think you have seen incidents in the past where members of Congress have been accused of something and it has been so egregious that those members have stepped down because of the pressure that has been put on them and/or because of the fact that they know and admitted that they have done something wrong. I think that has happened in the past. I think we do need to improve the reporting process and make sure there is more transparency. In this instance, I do not see where there is a pattern and practice or where he said he thought he was entitled to do certain things or could because of his celebrityism. I think that the president, and we need to look at that also, the president should be undergoing some kind ethics review for his past behavior and that no president should be above the similar kind of scrutiny. You heard him say something about Senator Franken, but at the same time he is out there campaigning for Judge Moore. Maybe not hypocritical because he conducted similar acts. Maybe he is not a pedophile but similar acts of entitlement and denial, so maybe two peas in the pod there with Judge Moore and the president of the United States.
WHITFIELD: And before I let you go, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi earlier today, before John Conyers stepped down as a ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, called Congressman Conyers an icon, presumably making reference to his record as a civil rights activist, Korean war vet, co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus. Do you believe that was appropriate? Do you take issue with that?
MEEKS: He is definitely an icon. He has contributed mightily to this country. He has made this country a better place. When you think about where we would be if it wasn’t for Rosa Parks refusing to get out of her seat. And yet and still here is a woman that was disrespected by white America and prevented from having a job any place in the United States. Here was John Conyers, who decided he would hire her in his office and treat her with the kind of dignity and respect that she deserved. There is no question and I think history will record John Conyers as an icon and individual who has committed his life to making the United States of America a better place.
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