Nancy Pelosi’s head-spinning defense of her Democrat colleague, the credibly accused serial sexual predator John Conyers Jr., is throwing a spotlight on the appalling double-standard Democrats apply when their own are under fire.
Of course, it is axiomatic that the more important the politician being accused of sexual wrongdoing is to the left, the more creatively and vigorously left-wingers will defend him.
But in this new era of populism, Americans are demanding accountability for the powerful. Public revulsion over sex-related abuses is mowing down the powerful like blades of grass. Hollywood’s answer to Caligula, Democrat mega-donor Harvey Weinstein, was the first to fall, and new stories of rape and his otherwise farm animal-like behavior seem to come out hourly. It takes a lot for the money-hungry left-wingers at HBO to cancel a blockbuster series like “House of Cards,” but that’s exactly what they did after actor Kevin Spacey was credibly accused of trying to force himself on an underage boy years ago. The political career of that crazed frat-boy who can’t keep his hands to himself, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), is now hanging on by a thread as the trickle of loyal Democrats abandoning him is growing into a raging river.
Republicans and conservatives are no angels but hardly any have gotten caught up in this great awakening that began in the autumn. This helps to explain why mainstream media shrieking about unproven sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama keeps growing louder.
Pelosi has put some distance between herself and the Michigan lawmaker since her Sunday appearance on “Meet the Press,” which was an unadulterated public relations debacle for the California congresswoman who serves as House minority leader. But her stunningly tone-deaf TV performance shows the normal rules still don’t apply to Democrat dinosaurs like Conyers, currently the longest-serving member in Congress. The TV spot has also done significant damage to the Democrats’ brand as the party that champions women.
Eighty-eight-year-old Conyers, who was first elected to Congress in 1964, is “an icon” who deserves due process and respect, Pelosi told a slack-jawed Chuck Todd.
“John Conyers is an icon in our country,” she said of the big-city Sixties radical. “He’s done a great deal to protect women,” Pelosi said, referencing his support for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Her laudatory remarks were promptly echoed by other Democrats in Congress.
Evidence suggests Conyers has also done a great deal to harm women, treating them like sexual playthings.
Conyers has acknowledged he settled a 2015 sexual harassment claim for $27,000 of taxpayer funds without admitting wrongdoing. He silenced his alleged victim by forcing her to sign a nondisclosure agreement. He has temporarily stepped down as ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee while he is being investigated.
Four other female Conyers employees signed affidavits saying he sexually harassed them.
In the 2015 case, Conyers settled with an ex-employee who claimed she was terminated for refusing to “succumb to [his] sexual advances.” Still bound by the nondisclosure agreement, the victim has reportedly asked for the prohibition on speaking publicly about what happened to be lifted.
According to apparently authentic redacted affidavits, the lawmaker “repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public.”
These affidavits reveal a secret process Congress uses to resolve, or some would say, squelch, sexual harassment claims. Administered by the congressional Office of Compliance, it has led to $17 million being paid out in 264 settlements with federal employees over two decades, some of which involved sexual harassment claims.
“I was basically blackballed,” the woman in the 2015 case told BuzzFeed News. “There was nowhere I could go.”
The key takeaway here is that the rules everyone else in society follows regarding sexual harassment allegations don’t apply to House and Senate members. From what we’ve learned so far, the system seems designed to insulate those lawmakers from harassment claims. And if the system prevents accountability, that means it provides lawmakers with incentives to grope, assault, or blackmail employees into sex. Lawmakers know no one will ever find out about the allegations and they don’t feel any financial pain because taxpayers foot the bill.
Despite the evidence, Pelosi counseled caution on the Conyers case and stressed the importance of due process, but not for accused Republicans.
Roy Moore is a “child molester,” Pelosi said matter-of-factly. Disputed claims that Moore made unwanted sexual advances on teenaged girls four decades ago when he was in his 30s popped up suddenly on the campaign trail after he secured his party’s nomination.
Moore, Pelosi maintained, cannot be compared to serial groper and rape-joke writer Al Franken. “I don’t believe you can equate Senator Franken with Roy Moore. It is two different things.”
And Pelosi, who is no stranger to cognitive dissonance, managed to work in some nice things on the same television program to say about former President Bill Clinton, whose legacy is the phrase “bimbo eruptions,” and who has been credibly accused of rape. Clinton, whose wife cleaned up the messes left over from his serial philandering and abuses, was impeached because he lied under oath and obstructed justice in a case arising out of his illicit sexual relationship with a White House intern. He was 49; Monica Lewinsky was 22.
“I think it is a generational change,” she said, downplaying Clinton’s bad behavior just as many Democrats are having second thoughts about having defended Clinton in the late 1990s. “Let me say the concern we had then was that they were impeaching the president of the United States, and for something that had nothing to do with the performance of his duties and trying to take him out for that reason.”
But ousting President Trump over unproven sexual misconduct allegations would be a good thing, Pelosi seemed to imply.
“So many women have had a bad experience. Now they are saying I have had a bad experience and now a person who possibly engaged in that activity is the president of the United States. I’m speaking out,” she said.
But a lot has happened since Pelosi met the press on Sunday.
Pelosi has taken fire from segments of her own party for her hypocritical refusal to hold Democrat office-holders to account, and just as happened with Franken, the initial accusation against Conyers has spawned a series of new claims.
Left-wing public interest attorney Melanie Sloan, who worked as Democratic counsel on the House Judiciary Committee under Conyers, told the Detroit Free Press that the lawmaker was a hellacious boss.
“I’m no shrinking violet,” said Sloan, former executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “His constant stream of abuse was difficult to handle and it was certainly damaging to my self-respect and self-esteem.”
“It made me increasingly anxious and depressed about going to work every day. And there was no way to fix it. There was no mechanism I could use, no person I could go to,” she said.
Conyers sat around in his underwear in his congressional office. “He was just walking around in his office, not dressed,” Sloan said. “He wasn’t doing it to hit on me. It was more like he could do what he wanted. I was quite shocked by it and left quickly.” Other women have come forward to corroborate Conyers’ relaxed sartorial standards.
Democrats on Capitol Hill wouldn’t help her. Occasionally she was labeled as “mentally unstable” for telling her story, Sloan said.
Monday night Pelosi announced she believes Sloan, but stopped short of condemning Conyers.
“Ms. Sloan told me that she had publicly discussed distressing experiences while on his staff. I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing. I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me.”
On Tuesday, Deanna Maher, who ran a Michigan office for Conyers from 1997 to 2005, publicly accused Conyers of misconduct as a dozen former staffers signed a joint statement vouching for his good behavior.
Maher said in 1997 Conyers offered to share his hotel suite and have sex with her after a Congressional Black Caucus event. He groped her in 1998 and 1999, she added.
“He was trying to feel me up with his right hand,” Maher said of an incident in a car.
“I kept pushing his hand away. Then he put his hand on my neck and started trying to tickle me. We were on I-75, and he was driving erratically. I was saved by the bell because we got pulled over by the police for the way he was driving.”
GOP strategist Elise Jordan told NBC News that “Democrats on Capitol Hill are underestimating the movement that’s happening right now and the tenor of the nation when it comes to zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual assault. It’s another example of Washington protecting their own — they’re protecting the boys who are in the club,” she said.
“It’s about the ties of the club, the bonds of the club, and no one will defy that even when it’s a question of morality and standards from the party that ostensibly says they support women.”
“If the harasser’s on your team, you soften your stances,” Greg Gutfeld said on Fox News Channel Monday. “It happens on the left and now it's on the right, but the left made it an art form. No wonder Alabamans ignore the media about Roy Moore.”
Meanwhile, new allegations of impropriety against congressional Democrats have come to light.
Having a sexual relationship with Rep. Al Green of Texas, Lucinda Daniels, formerly director of the lawmaker’s district office, demanded $1.8 million from Green, claiming sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, according to the Daily Caller. Green said the dispute has since been resolved without money changing hands and that the two are again friends.
The congressman sued her in 2008, claiming she was a cocaine abuser and that she was trying to shake him down. Green said at the time he “will not be extorted or blackmailed.”
And there is evidence of the existence of a second congressional hush fund, the Washington Times reports. In 2015 Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) arranged for a $48,395 payout to one his staffers who claimed the lawmaker was often drunk and created a hostile office environment.
While the Office of Compliance has been the focus of outrage on Capitol Hill for hush-money payouts in sexual harassment cases, the Grijalva payout points to another office that lawmakers can use to sweep accusations under the rug with taxpayer-funded settlements negotiated by the House Employment Counsel, which acts as the attorney for all House offices.
Conyers, Franken, Green, Grijalva, Anthony David Weiner, and the list goes on. Where does it end?
Really, this is only beginning. These tensions have been simmering beneath the surface for decades.
A sleeping giantess has been awakened.