Pelosi chokes, won't say that "icon" Conyers should resign over settlement of harassment allegations; Update: Conyers quits top spot on Judiciary committee

An astounding performance, in which the first woman Speaker in American history goes to bat for a credibly accused harasser in the midst of a cultural revolution about stopping sexual misconduct by powerful men. She’s getting shredded for it on social media this morning too, and not just by Republicans:

Her spin is all over the map. The clip picks up after she’s called for “zero tolerance” of sexual misconduct in Congress. What about John Conyers, retorts Chuck Todd? Hey, hey, hey, says Pelosi — the man’s an icon. There are only one or two accusers. And he’s entitled to due process. Uh, he settled with his accuser, Todd reminds her, and he got to hide that settlement. Why should he get more due process after that? I’m confident Conyers will do the right thing, she tries to reassure him. And what’s the right thing, Todd presses her? Whatever’s right under the facts, Pelosi says. Do you believe the accusers, Todd finally asks her — the fateful question as “Pervnado” sweeps across America. She won’t say yes

Gosh, I sure hope we don’t come to find out that Conyers’s behavior with women staffers has been an open secret on the Hill for decades and that his friend Nancy has heard the rumors for 30 years. What a legacy that would be for her, petrified to use her authority as Democratic leader to purge the gropers in her ranks. As a Twitter pal notes, this is smoking-gun proof that the recent left-wing navel-gazing over whether Bill Clinton should have resigned 20 years ago is cynical nonsense. Faced with credible allegations against a much less powerful Democrat than Clinton in Conyers, one who’s waaaaaay past the age at which he should have retired and who’s been accused of having lost some of his mental capacity, the leader of the caucus whiffs on demanding that he step down. And worse than that, she cites his “icon” status as a point in his favor. Clinton, Conyers, and basically every male member of the Kennedy family, living or dead, would smile at that. It may be the single creepiest thing she’s ever said in public life.

Conyers needs to go and he needs to take Pelosi with him and a lot of Democrats won’t disagree after this. In the meantime, if Roy Moore has a campaign staff that’s even half-competent, he’ll have this clip on the air in Alabama in any format that’ll take it. Watching their least favorite Democrat shill for an accused harasser on her own side is going to convince Republicans who are on the fence about Moore that it’s not only okay for them to support him, it’s the responsible thing to do as a partisan by punishing Democratic hypocrisy. I think he just won the election.

Update: An excellent point:

The Democratic idea of due process: Guilty until proven innocent on college campuses, innocent and basically incapable of being proved guilty in Congress thanks to an ethics committee that almost never takes aggressive action against members accused of misconduct.

Update: A half-measure.

Pelosi’s out with her own statement this afternoon trumpeting Conyers’s move:

Josh Barro is obviously right: “My theory: After her MTP interview landed so badly, Pelosi told Conyers he was going to step aside, and that it could be his choice or hers.” Pelosi messed up badly this morning and needed some a sacrifice from Conyers to rebuild some of her “zero tolerance” credibility, as ridiculous as that is. She can’t make him quit Congress but she can make him quit as ranking member of the Judiciary committee. It was purely a question of whether he’d lose that status the hard way or the easy way.

Now, when does he resign?