House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi dodged questions about whether Rep. John Conyers should resign following revelations that he settled a 2015 complaint with a former staffer who claimed she was sacked after refusing his sexual advances.
The first effect since the discussion of sexual harassment in Congress began has come as Rep. John Conyers has stepped down from his position as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Melanie Sloan, an attorney and former aide to Conyers, said she was verbally abused by the Democratic congressman, and although she maintains she was not sexually harassed, calling herself "no shrinking violet", she also claims he once summoned her for a meeting while in his underwear.
"After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside", said Conyers in a written statement on Sunday.
"To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member", he added.
Judiciary Committee's ranking member, pending the outcome of the ethics probe.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a statement shortly following Mr Conyers' announcement. "There is still much work to be done on core concerns like securing civil rights, enacting meaningful criminal justice reform, and protecting access to the ballot box", said Conyers.
"We are strengthened by due process. He has done a great deal to protect women", Pelosi told Chuck Todd Sunday on NBC News' Meet the Press.
When asked specifically whether she believes the accusations against Conyers, Pelosi said, "I do not know who they are".
Pelosi continued that she was confident Conyers would "do the right thing" as his case is reviewed, but stopped short of referencing resignation.
Pelosi's defense of Conyers came just minutes after she acknowledged there was a "generational change" in the way sexual harassment allegations are treated, and praised women for increasingly confronting harassers.