WASHINGTON — Representative John Conyers Jr., the House’s longest-serving lawmaker, is stepping aside as the leading Democrat on the Property Judiciary Committee amid an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed former aides.
“After cautious consideration and in light of the attention drawn by current allegations created against me,” Mr. Conyers stated in a statement on Sunday, he is stepping aside on the Judiciary panel “during the investigation of these matters.”
The announcement came five days right after the revelation that Mr. Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, had settled a complaint in 2015 by a former employee who had said she was fired due to the fact she rejected his sexual advances. The Residence Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into the matter.
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“I deny these allegations, numerous of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-correct blogger,” Mr. Conyers said in the statement. “I quite much look forward to vindicating myself and my household ahead of the Residence Committee on Ethics.”
The news of the settlement was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which said it received documents about the case from Mike Cernovich, a appropriate-wing on the web commentator. BuzzFeed has reported that a second lady has also accused Mr. Conyers of sexual harassment.
Mr. Conyers said in his statement that he would “like extremely significantly to stay as ranking member,” but had “come to believe that my presence as ranking member on the committee would not serve these efforts even though the Ethics Committee investigation is pending.”
His lawyer, Arnold E. Reed, stated in a phone interview on Sunday that Mr. Conyers had taken many days to decide to step aside from his committee post since he did not want to make an “off the cuff” move. Mr. Conyers spoke with many household members and deliberated throughout the Thanksgiving holiday ahead of figuring out that the allegations had become also a lot of a distraction, the lawyer said.
“He wanted time to feel about this and attain a conclusion that he was comfortable with. And it was the correct factor to do in his thoughts,” Mr. Reed said. “He is keeping that he did not do something incorrect. He is keeping his innocence. This is a short-term stepping aside his position as ranking member so this can be a totally transparent and unfettered investigation.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Reed had stated in an interview that Mr. Conyers, 88, believed that some of those suggesting that he step down, including fellow Democrats, had been scheming for years to push him out of his Judiciary post.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, recommended in a statement that she supported Mr. Conyers’s decision. Earlier, in an interview on “Meet the Press,” Ms. Pelosi stated she anticipated that Mr. Conyers would “do the correct thing,” even though she was not distinct.
“Zero tolerance implies consequences,” Ms. Pelosi mentioned in the statement. “I have asked for an ethics investigation, and as that investigation continues, Congressman Conyers has agreed to step aside as ranking member.”
The House is anticipated this week to pass a resolution mandating that all members and their staffs participate in anti-harassment and anti-discrimination coaching.
Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who holds the not too long ago developed position of vice ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, praised Mr. Conyers for producing a “wise decision.”
Mr. Raskin is a co-sponsor of legislation put forth by Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, to overhaul the way sexual harassment is handled on Capitol Hill, and to put an finish to the practice of paying secret settlements out of the federal Treasury.
“The Property is ready to clean home with respect to sexual harassment, and everybody agrees that we need to have to have a zero-tolerance policy,” Mr. Raskin stated in an interview, adding, “We ought to in no way normalize sexual harassment in the workplace.”
The lawyer Lisa Bloom, who announced on Sunday that she was representing the lady who filed the complaint against Mr. Conyers, said that a confidentiality agreement was preventing the woman from telling her side of the story. Ms. Bloom urged Mr. Conyers to release her client from the agreement so she could speak publicly.
Published at Sun, 26 Nov 2017 18:47:42 +0000