>> Accusations of misconduct against Democratic Congressman John Conyers, which he family denies, are throwing a harsh light on Capitol Hill's elaborate, and critics say archaic rules for handling complaints of sexual harassment. Conyers unnamed accuser said she was fired for resisting his advances and accepted a settlement as a last resort, saying the system left her with few other options.
This is how that system works, Congress requires accusers to file a complaint within 180 days. And only allows them to file a lawsuit after first submitting to 30 days of counseling, and another 30 days of mediation with all parties sworn to secrecy. Media reports said a second former staff member made similar complaints against Conyers in a civil action earlier this year, that she later withdrew.
Recent cases in the private sector have been met with firings and cancelled projects for celebrities such as Charlie Rose, and Kevin Spacey. But on Capitol Hill if a complaint ends up being settled, it's paid out not by the accused, but by the US Treasury, which is on the hook for over $17 million in the last two decades.
Conyers, the longest serving member of Congress denied any wrong doing. And said the 2015 financial settlement with his accuser reported to be $27,000, was made to prevent quote, protracted litigation. Reuters has not independently confirmed the claim against him. The House Ethics Committee on Tuesday said it was investigating the allegations against Conyers.
This month Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, testified at House hearings alleging a culture of rampant harassment in Congress.>> The present system may have been okay in the dark ages, it is not appropriate for the 21st century.>> President Donald Trump weighed on the allegations as he left the White House for Thanksgiving at his Mara Lago estate in Florida.
>> Thank you, Mr. President. Do believe Congress should release the names of lawmakers who have settled on sexual harassment claims?>> I do, I really do, I think they should. Thank you, have a good Thanksgiving everybody.