Representative John Conyers stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee on Sunday amid an ethics investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him. In a statement that was both defiant and conciliatory, Conyers continued to deny those allegations, but said that, “I cannot in good conscience allow these charges to undermine my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, and my friends on both sides of the aisle in the Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives.”
Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who earlier in the day celebrated Conyers’s political accomplishments and seemed to defend him against the harassment allegations, released her own statement following Conyers’s, insisting that she takes “any accusation of sexual harassment very seriously.”
“No matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment,” she continued.
The 88-year-old Conyers, who took office in 1965 and is the longest-serving member of Congress, has been either the chair or ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee since 2007. Last week, it was reported that the Michigan Democrat had secretly settled a sexual-harassment complaint made against him by a former staff member back in 2014, and that he had acted inappropriately with other women on his staff as well.