Outside of Washington, the pattern to this wave of sexual-misconduct cases is clear enough: Accusation (or accusations), firing, and then maybe an apology. But within politics, there’s no pattern to follow, as a quartet of examples demonstrate.
Al Franken, John Conyers, Roy Moore, and Joe Barton all stand accused of various sexual indiscretions, but otherwise, save their gender and profession, they share little in common. Even the allegations against them range widely, from the criminal to the creepy to, in Barton’s case, the merely consensual. So far, so do their trajectories post-accusation.
Begin with Democrat Conyers, who is facing intense pressure to resign. Thursday alone, Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Representative James Clyburn all called for him to step down. The last two are fellow Democrats, and Clyburn is particularly notable because he was defiantly supportive of Conyers just Wednesday, and is the highest-ranking black Democrat in the House. Conyers, who at 88 is the dean of the House, has himself been quiet, and his lawyer said he entered a hospital last night with stress-related illness.
During a press conference on Thursday, Conyers’s attorney Arnold Reed was defiant. “First of all it is not up to Nancy Pelosi,” Reed said. “Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman and she sure as hell won’t be the one to tell the congressman to resign.” Reed may have hurt his client’s cause with his combative remarks, in which he argued that one of Conyers’s accusers was “jumping on the bandwagon” and questioned whether she would have accepted a settlement of some $27,000 if she was treated as badly as she claimed.