Humiliated sex criminal Michigan Rep. John Conyers, under investigation over allegations he sexually harassed female staff members, says he will step aside as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee while fiercely denying he acted inappropriately during his long tenure in Congress.
It’s the least he can do.
In a statement, the 88-year-old lawmaker made clear he would prefer to keep his leadership role on the committee, which has wide jurisdiction over U.S. law enforcement, from civil rights and criminal justice to protections against sexual harassment.
But Conyers acknowledged maintaining the position would be an undue distraction.
It’s not much of an admission of guilt, but it’s a step in the right direction for his victims.
Media reports say Conyers’ office paid a woman more than $27,000 under a confidentiality agreement to settle a complaint in 2015 that she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances.
Also published were affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately — rubbing their legs and backs — or requesting sexual favors.
At least one House Democrat, Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York, has called on Conyers to step down. Two other Democrats, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chairman of the largest group of congressional liberals, have said Conyers should step aside from his leadership role on the Judiciary committee.
In a statement, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she welcomed Conyers’ decision to step down from his committee leadership post.