US Congress(WASHINGTON) — Embattled Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is “not going to be pressured” to resign from office after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on the congressman to step down Thursday over sexual harassment allegations.
“It’s not up to Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi did not elect the congressman and she sure as hell won’t be the one to tell the congressman to leave. That decision will be completely up to the congressman,” Conyers’ attorney, Arnold Reed, said in a news conference Thursday outside John Conyers home in Michigan.
Reed added that Conyers’ decision on what to do next would not come Thursday or Friday as he is recovering in the hospital from a stress-related illness.
“He’s not thought about that. He’s thinking about his health. He’s thinking about getting well,” Reed said.
Reed said the Conyers family is asking for privacy while the congressman is being treated in the hospital. Conyers was walking around his home and felt lightheaded before being hospitalized, Reed said, adding that Conyers’ symptoms included chest pains and dizziness.
Pelosi on Thursday became one of the latest, and most high-profile, members of Congress to seek the representative’s resignation in the aftermath of harassment accusations.
“The allegations against Congressman Conyers as we have learned more since Sunday, are serious, disappointing and very credible. It’s very sad,” Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters during a news conference at the Capitol Thursday. “The brave women who came forward are owed justice. I pray for Congressman Conyers and his family, and wish them well. However, Congressman Conyers should resign.”
“Zero tolerance means consequences for everyone,” Pelosi added, reading from a prepared statement. “No matter how great the legacy, it’s not license to harass or discriminate. In fact it makes it even more disappointing.”
Less than 30 minutes later, House Speaker Paul Ryan echoed Pelosi, calling on Conyers to resign “immediately.”
“As speaker, I just want to say something about this. This needs to be a workplace where everyone feels safe and respected. No woman should have to endure harassment in any form, in any institution, let alone in Congress,” Ryan, R-Wis., said. “I think [Conyers] should resign. I think he should resign immediately. I’ve just been briefed on the torrent of allegations and I think he should.”
Reed and an official spokesperson for the lawmaker confirmed that the 27-term Democrat was hospitalized overnight.
At least four women have accused Conyers of misconduct while working for him in office — a new accuser went public just this week in the Detroit News. BuzzFeed on Monday reported that Conyers’ office paid more than $27,000 to a female aide as part of a confidentiality agreement in relation to the complaint. Conyers denies any wrongdoing.
Since the allegations became public, sources close to Conyers have maintained he will not resign, though he has not made an official decision regarding reelection in 2018, despite rumors he will retire.
After the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into the allegations of harassment and misconduct, Conyers’ hometown newspaper – the Detroit Free Press – and several members of the House Democratic Caucus publicly called for his resignation.
Conyers has not personally addressed the allegations in public, but through an attorney has denied them. On Monday, he stepped down from his post as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
As the longest-serving member of Congress, Conyers is recognized as “dean” of the House of Representatives. Conyers is 88 years old and has represented Michigan in the House since 1965.
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