|WASHINGTON — Representative John Conyers Jr., the House’s longest-serving lawmaker, is stepping aside as the
top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed
“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me,” Mr. Conyers said in a
statement on Sunday, he is stepping aside on the Judiciary panel “during the investigation of these matters.”
The announcement came five days 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 because she rejected his sexual advances. The House Ethics
Committee has opened an investigation into the matter.
“I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger,” Mr.
Conyers said in the statement. “I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee
The news of the settlement was first reported by BuzzFeed News, which said it received documents about the case from
Mike Cernovich, a right-wing online commentator. BuzzFeed has reported that a second woman has also accused Mr.
Mr. Conyers said in his statement that he would “like very much to remain as ranking member,” but had “come to believe
that my presence as ranking member on the committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee
investigation is pending.”
His lawyer, Arnold E. Reed, said in a phone interview on Sunday that Mr. Conyers had taken several days to decide to step
aside from his committee post because he did not want to make an “off the cuff” move. Mr. Conyers spoke with several
family members and deliberated during the Thanksgiving holiday before determining that the allegations had become too
much of a distraction, the lawyer said.
“He wanted time to think about this and reach a conclusion that he was comfortable with. And it was the right thing to do in
his mind,” Mr. Reed said. “He is maintaining that he did not do anything wrong. He is maintaining his innocence. This is a
temporary stepping aside his position as ranking member so this can be a completely transparent and unfettered investigation.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Reed had said 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.
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Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, suggested in a statement that she supported Mr. Conyers’s decision.
Earlier, in an interview on “Meet the Press,” Ms. Pelosi said she expected that Mr. Conyers would “do the right thing,”
though she was not specific.
“Zero tolerance means consequences,” Ms. Pelosi said 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 expected this week to pass a resolution mandating that all members and their staffs participate in anti-
harassment and anti-discrimination training.
Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who holds the recently created position of vice ranking member on the
Judiciary Committee, praised Mr. Conyers for making 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 end to the practice of paying secret settlements out of the
“The House is ready to clean house with respect to sexual harassment, and everybody agrees that we need to have a zero-
tolerance policy,” Mr. Raskin said in an interview, adding, “We should never normalize sexual harassment in the workplace.”
The lawyer Lisa Bloom, who announced on Sunday that she was representing the woman 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.
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