On Sunday, Nanci Pelosi met with Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet The Press." When asked about Sen. John Conyers, who was recently accused of sexually assaulting several female staffers, Pelosi succumbed to partisanship and answered "catastrophically."
Here is a transcript of Pelosi's conversation with Todd:
TODD: So, define zero tolerance. You said there's now a zero tolerance.
TODD: John Conyers. What does that mean for him? Right now. In or out?
PELOSI: We are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused -- and was it one accusation? Is it two? I think there has to be -- John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women -- Violence Against Women Act, which the left -- right-wing -- is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that, and he did great work on that. But the fact is, as John reviews his case, which he knows, which I don't, I believe he will do the right thing.
TODD: Do you believe John Conyers' accusers?
PELOSI: I don't know who they are, do you? They have not really come forward.
Not only is Pelosi's statement factually incorrect (several of Conyers' staffers have spoken out publicly against him), it also calls into question Pelosi's commitment to nonpartisan justice, especially as it pertains to sexual assault.
To be fair, a shred of wisdom existed in Pelosi's comment: we are strengthened by due process. Just today, the Washington Post published an exposé on a right-wing organization's attempt to trick the Post into publishing false allegations against Roy Moore. Due processs—in this case, journalistic process—prevented the spread of false information.
The Conyers allegations, however, were vetted. They weren't false. Due process already took place. Due process decided against Conyers.
Of course, there is a distinction between due process in the legal sense and due process in the political and journalistic sense. Conyers shouldn't be thrown in jail unless he is found guilty of some crime by a jury of his peers.
But in the meantime, Conyers should step down—at least temporarily—from the Senate until a proper ethics investigation can take place. This is what Pelosi missed in her comment: zero tolerance doesn't mean that we throw folks in prison at the first whisper of an accusation. Zero tolerance means that well-vetted information—such as the Conyers accusations—warrants further investigation and temporary removal of the accused from Congress.
Here is what Pelosi should have said in response to Chuck Todd's question:
TODD: John Conyers. What does [zero tolerance] mean for him? Right now. In or out?
PELOSI: Zero tolerance means zero tolerance. He should temporarily remove himself from the Senate and allow a proper ethics investigation to take place. We shouldn't throw him in jail—due process makes us stronger, after all—but there is good reason to believe that Conyers has acted in ways that threaten women, so he should temporarily step down and allow a fair investigation to get to the bottom of things.
Pelosi should make this same statement regardless of the partisan affiliation of the accused. Sexual assault is despicable regardless of whether the predator is a Democrat or Republican. Justice should follow no party line.