In December, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called on her fellow Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen (Nev.) to resign over allegations of sexual harassment, but now she appears not as sure.
Pelosi had joined Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.) in calling for Kihuen to resign after multiple women publicly accused the Nevada Democrat of inappropriate touching and unwanted advances. Kihuen, a first-term congressman, announced in December that he would not run for reelection. Now, Kihuen is re-considering that decision with a week left to decide whether to run again, according to reports, but Pelosi refused to answer reporters' questions about the matter on Thursday.
"When he makes a decision, I'll give you a reaction to it," Pelosi told reporters when asked about Kihuen mulling a reelection bid.
Another reporter asked about the matter later, and Pelosi dodged again.
"Let's see what he decides to do, OK?" Pelosi said. "I don't mean to be rude in my response, but I don't want to speculate on something that may or may not happen. OK?"
Kihuen accused Pelosi and the DCCC of knowing about the allegations against him before they became public. Pelosi and the DCCC have denied that charge, although one of Kihuen's accusers said that she told the DCCC.
At least four women have come out with accusations against Kihuen. The initial BuzzFeed report that publicized the first allegations centered on his 2016 campaign. That report came out in early December, near the height of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and violence. Kihuen has denied the allegations.
When Pelosi called for Kihuen to resign in December, she extolled the virtues of the #MeToo movement and said standing up for victims is larger than politics.
"We don't see this as a political issue," she said. "This is something remarkable that has happened in our country, and I'm so glad that [at] long last, Time magazine has placed some women as ‘women of the year.'"
Pelosi was referring to those in the #MeToo movement who were named 2017 "Person of the Year" by Time, although they were not the first women to receive that distinction.
Several other lawmakers have been in a similar position as Kihuen. Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers (Mich.) and former Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) resigned in the midst of sexual misconduct allegations, as did former Republican Reps. Trent Franks (Ariz.) and Tim Murphy (Pa.).
Kihuen had opted to retire at the end of the year, a decision that Reps. Blake Farenthold, (R., Texas) and Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) also made.