The attorney for Democratic Rep. John Conyers said Friday the congressman is weighing whether he will resign from Congress, but will continue to defend himself against mounting allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women, in an apparent change of tune from earlier statements.
Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed held a press conference from Detroit Friday afternoon, as reports of the Michigan Democrat’s alleged sexual misconduct continue to dominate headlines.
“With regard to Mr. Conyers’ resignation, we will discuss in the next day or so what Mr. Conyers plans to do,” Reed told reporters Friday. “As you know, his health is not the best. It is not what it should be, and he has now undergone a second round of examinations.”
Conyers, 88, was admitted to a Detroit hospital on Thursday for a stress-induced illness.
But Reed said the resignation decision would be up to Conyers.
“It will be Congressman John Conyers who will be the one to decide what it is he is going to do in terms of whether he is going to continue to represent the people,” Reed said. “It is not going to be Washington.”
Reed’s comments were a shift from his comments Thursday, following a press conference held in Washington by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., where she called for Conyers to resign.
“I pray for Congressman Conyers, however, Congressman Conyers should resign,” Pelosi said Thursday, launching a flood of prominent House Democrats to call for the same. “He has served our Congress and shaped consequential legislation -- zero tolerances mean consequences for everyone – no matter the great legacy.”
Reed held a press conference an hour later, and said Conyers “sure as hell” would not be pressured by Pelosi to resign.
Friday’s press conference seemed to underscore that if Conyers did decide to resign, it would be his decision, and his decision alone.
“He will continue to defend himself until the cows come home,” Reed said Friday. “Because unequivocally, unmitigatedly, he has not sexually harassed anyone.”
Reed went on to attempt to disclaim the allegations set forth by Conyers’ former staffer Marion Brown, who initially shared her account of Conyers’ misconduct anonymously to BuzzFeed News on Nov. 20. She claimed she was fired for ignoring the congressman’s sexual advances in 2015 and was paid a $27,000 settlement.
The anonymous staffer revealed her identity on Thursday in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show as Marion Brown. Brown said the misconduct occurred regularly during her 11 years working on his staff, and that Conyers often propositioned her for sex.
“It was sexual harassment, violating my body, propositioning me, inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and propositioning for sex,” Brown said Thursday. “He just violated my body, he’s touched me in different ways. It was very uncomfortable and very unprofessional.”
Reed suggested Friday that Brown was an “opportunist,” and noted that she worked in Conyers’ office with her daughter and another family member.
Reed said her claims are “not true” and questioned why she would bring her daughter “into a situation that you describe as complete hell” and a “hostile environment.”
“There is another side of the story and there are many witnesses who will testify in favor of the congressman if it comes to it,” Reed said Friday.
But Brown is not the only woman who has accused Conyers of this behavior. In fact, several women have come forth with very similar allegations of inappropriate touching, and even accounts of the congressman walking around in his underwear.
The House Ethics Committee has announced an investigation into the allegations facing Conyers, but some of his accusers don’t feel that is enough.
“It’s often just a black hole where allegations go to die and we never hear about them again,” Melanie Sloan told Fox News. Sloan is one of the women who came forward in the last week to accuse Conyers of inappropriate behavior.
Reed said it would “not be today” and it “would not be tomorrow,” but that the congressman would make a decision as to his status in Congress.
The lawyer also echoed his comments from Thursday, alluding to a perceived double standard –pointing to the allegations facing Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and the latest allegations against Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, which surfaced on Friday.