The Detroit congressman and civil rights movement veteran announced today he is stepping down from his post as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee in the wake of the release of documents related to his cash settlement of sexual harassment accusations.
“I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger,” Rep. John J. Conyers Jr. (D.-Mich.), whose settlement paperwork was posted by Buzzfeed late Monday night after they were passed to that site by journalist Michael Cernovich. “I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.”
In the last session of Congress, Conyers was an unexpected ally of Speaker Paul D. Ryan Jr., (R.-Wis.), when the speaker actively blocked efforts by House conservatives to force a floor vote on the impeachment of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Conyers said he informed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) of his decision.
“To be clear, I would like very much to remain as ranking member,” said the combat veteran of the Korean War.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The congressman also said he was wary of his being the ranking member on such an important committee has become a distraction to his Democratic colleagues.
“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.”
Conyers is the most senior member of Congress and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.