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Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., stepped down as the ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday, following sexual harassment accusations.
The 27-term congressman said he denied the allegations, but was stepping down because of the ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation.
“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 in a statement.
“To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member,” he added. “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.”
On Sunday, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Meet The Press, “John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women – Violence Against Women Act, which the left — right-wing — is now quoting me as praising him for his work on that, and he did great work on that,” she added. “But the fact is, as John reviews his case, which he knows, which I don’t, I believe he will do the right thing.”
Conyers’ office recently confirmed issuing a settlement of $27,000 to a former staffer who says she was fired for resisting the congressman’s sexual advances. Conyers has acknowledged the payout, which he said amounted to a severance package, but he denied the allegations about what it was for.
The payout from Conyers’ office first became public in a report published by Buzzfeed on Monday, and came after a number of men in powerful positions in politics, entertainment and media have faced public accusations of sexual harassment. The accusations have opened up a national conversation about how women are treated in the workplace by men in positions of power.
Conyers has held the powerful position on Capitol Hill as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee for a decade, but after Pelosi’s interview on Sunday, he announced that he would step down from the position while the Ethics Committee investigates.