The most senior lawmaker on Capitol Hill, Rep. John J. Conyers Jr., (D.-Mich.) announced this morning on the Mildrid Gaddis Show, 102.7 FM, a Michigan talk radio show, that he retires from Congress today.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” said Conyers, who was elected to Congress the same day President Lyndon B. Johnson was elected his own full term. Rep. Donald E. Young (R.-Alaska) becomes the new Dean of the House, the honorific given to the congressman with the most longevity.
“This too shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children. I’m retiring today,” the Detroit congressman said.
Conyers, who up until Nov. 26 was the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said he wanted the voters to elect his son as his successor.
“I have great family here and especially my oldest boy, John Conyers III, who incidentally I endorse to replace me in my seat in Congress,” he said. “We’re all working together to make this country a better one, to make quality and justice more available.”
Conyers is stepping down amid sexual harassment claims and stress-related health issues that have landed him in the hospital.
“We take these in stride,” he said.
“This goes with the issue of politics, the game of politics, which we’re in,” he said. “We move forward as we keep going, this too shall pass.”
He has repeatedly said the allegations of sexual misconduct, stemming from the release of documents relating severance payments that appeared to be payoffs for his untoward behavior, were not true, such as this excerpt from his Nov. 21 denial:
In our country, we strive to honor this fundamental principle that all are entitled to due process. In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so. My office resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative. The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment.
When Conyers stepped away from the House Judiciary Committee, he said he was still intent on proving he did nothing wrong.
“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,” he said.
“I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger,” he said. “I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.”