DETROIT (WWJ) – Democratic Congressman John Conyers has stated on social media that he’ll step down from his duties on the House Judiciary Committee while he’s under investigation for sexual misconduct.
Conyers’ lawyer, in the meantime, is challenging the allegations by a former staffer.
Attorney Arnold Reed on Fox 2 Sunday said the $27,000 settlement in 2015 was not related to the congressman’s behavior.
“This is not new news,” said Reed. “This is old news, this individual that Mr. Conyers let go was guilty of committing a crime – she committed fraud. Mr. Conyers let her go and reached a severance agreement.
“Whenever you reach any kind of resolution or settlement, if you will, there’s always clauses in there — where you indicate, look, we’re paying this money because we don’t want to engage in protracted litigation – we want this just to go away.”
Critics are calling for congressman Conyers to resign although House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t know the identities of his accusers, and would like the Ethics Committee to judge their credibility.
Pelosi insists that Conyers deserves “due process” and will “do the right thing” after Congress returns from Thanksgiving break on Monday.
The House Ethics Committee is investigating Conyers after receiving allegations of sexual harassment and age discrimination as well as using “official resources for impermissible personal purposes.” Conyers has said he would fully cooperate.
John Conyers released a series of statements on Twitter:
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.
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.
To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member. 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.
These challenges could not be more pressing in the face of an Administration that cares little for the rule of law and a President whose actions and conduct cheapens our discourse every day.
But I have come to believe that my presence as Ranking Member on the Committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending.
I cannot in good conscience allow these charges to undermine my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, and my friends on both sides of the aisle in the Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives.
I am proud and fortunate to be part of a legacy of more than 50 years of fighting for civil rights and making our country more equitable and just.
I’ll never allow that legacy – a legacy I owe to my father John Conyers, Sr., who integrated labor unions, or my two amazing sons John III & Carl and my loving wife Monica, and the extraordinary people of Detroit – to be cast aside, or these causes to be in any way diminished.
I am grateful to my colleagues who have called for due process before weighing judgment. I would urge them to continue to do so for any Member accused of wrongdoing. Basic fairness requires no less.
(© Copyright 2017. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)