Nov. 26 (UPI) — Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., stepped down as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee amid an ethics investigation into sexual harassment allegations.
Conyers, 88, denied the allegations in a statement on Sunday, but said he chose to resign due to the ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation.
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters,” Conyers said.
The House Committee on Ethics opened an investigation into Conyers on Tuesday following a Buzzfeed report in which a former staffer said he fired her because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”
The wrongful dismissal complaint she filed in 2014 with Congress’ Office of Compliance was settled for more than $27,000 and Conyers said his office resolved the allegations “with an express denial of liability.”
“I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger. I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics,” Conyers said Sunday.
Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, had previously said he wouldn’t resign and maintained he still has desire to serve but wouldn’t allow the charges to “undermine” his colleagues in the Democratic Caucus.
“To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member,” he said. “There is still much work to be done on core concerns like securing civil rights, enacting meaningful criminal justice reform, and protecting access to the ballot box.”
Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press prior to Conyers’ announcement on Sunday, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called for “due process” before issuing a penalty over the allegations.
“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,” she said.
When asked if she believed Conyers would resign, Pelosi hinted at his eventual decision.
“I believe he understands what is at stake here and he will do the right thing,” she said.