Embattled Michigan Rep. John Conyers announced his decision Tuesday to retire from Congress as he faced down new allegations of groping.
‘I am retiring today. And I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support, the incredible undiminished support I’ve received across the years,’ Conyers told Michigan radio host Mildred Gaddis.
Even as he faces an Ethics investigation and growing calls to quit, Conyers endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to succeed him in the Detroit-based congressional seat.
Another relative, State Sen. Ian Conyers, has also said he’ll run for the seat.
Conyers said his own legacy on civil rights and other issues was ‘absolutely not’ diminished. ‘My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what w’re going through now,’ Conyers said. ‘This too shall pass.’
He also issued a blanket denunciation of charges brought by women against him.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, 88, plans to announce his retirement as he faces sexual harassment allegations. He is the longest-serving member of the House
‘Whatever they are, they are not accurate or they’re not true and I think that they’re something that I can’t explain where they came from,’ Conyers said.
Conyers slid in the endorsement of his son, indirectly confirming press reports that he would retire.
‘I want you to know that my legacy will continue through my children. I have a great family here and especially in my oldest boy, John Conyers III who incidentally I endorsed to replace me in my seat in congress,’ Conyers said.
Conyers also praised his brother Nathan.
At one point during the interview, there was a pause of more than 5 seconds while Conyers discussed his future.
‘I am very proud of the fact that I am the dean of the Congress and I that will continue to [pause] – yes I’m in the process of putting my retirement plans together and I will have more about that very soon,’ he said.
‘This goes with the issue of politics the game of politics which we’re in,’ Conyers said, alluding to the problems he has faced since the emergence of sexual harassment allegations against him.
He spoke on the local show that appears on 1200 AM and WCHB on the FM dial.
The New York Times reported earlier Tuesday that Conyers would step down at the end of his term. It was not entirely clear from the longtime lawmaker’s language that he was retiring ‘today’ if he now intends to vacate his seat immediately.
However his lawyer, Arnold Reed, told the Detroit Free Press he was leaving the seat as of Tuesday.
Defiant: Conyers, pictured on November 3 outside the Capitol, has denied any wrongdoing and said through his lawyer on Thursday that he has no intention to vacate his elected post
Conyers’ endorsement of his son raised the prospect of a family feud for the seat. Ian Conyers, the grandson of a Conyers brother, was quoted in the Times story confirming the retirement announcement in advance.
“His doctor advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him just in terms of his health,” Ian Conyers told the Times.
Requests for confirmation from Conyers’ congressional office were not immediately returned.
‘I’m in the process of putting my retirement plans together and I will have more about that very soon,’ he said.
Conyers has been facing calls to step down since it was revealed last month he paid a cash settlement out of office funds to a woman who claims he sexually harassed her.
In the latest turn in the case, another accuser, Elisa Grubbs, says Conyers slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while she was sitting next to him in the front row of a church.
Elisa Grubbs made the allegation in an affidavit released by her attorney, Lisa Bloom. Grubbs is the cousin of another accuser, Marion Brown, who previously broke a confidentiality agreement to speak publicly.
‘He is not resigning. He is going to retire,’ Conyers’ great-nephew Ian, a Michigan state senator, told the New York Times, adding that he planned to run for the seat in Congress himself, suggesting Conyers would step down at the end of his term and won’t seek reelection.
Conyers, 88, is already facing a House Ethics Committee inquiry.
On Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reversed course Thursday and said embattled Rep. John Conyers should resign from Congress.
‘The allegations against congressman Conyers as we have learned more since Sunday are serious, disappointing and very credible,’ said Pelosi, a California representative who notably did not call for Conyers to go during a Sunday appearance on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’
‘It’s very sad. The brave women who came forward are owed justice,’ Pelosi continued at a Capitol press conference.
Conyers’ attorney Arnold Reed told the Detroit Free Press the new allegations from Grubbs are ‘another instance of tomfoolery from the mouth of Harvey Weinstein’s attorney.’
The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP speaks at a rally in Detroit, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. Clergy, Detroit elected leaders and community activists are calling for due process in support of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who faces allegations of sexual harassment from several women who once worked for him
‘I pray for congressman Conyers and his family and wish them well, however, Congressman Conyers should resign,’ said Pelosi
Conyers flew home to his district last week and checked into the hospital for what a family consultant said was stress.
A family spokesman, Sam Riddle, attacked Conyers’ accusers at the time. ‘These serial accusers have done this before. We’re used to it. We don’t condone sexual harassment on any level,’ he said.
‘But we hope that you will pray for the congressman’s good health and we hope and we hope that you will also understand that there is a bitter double edged sword to those that would accuse especially, when they’re serial accusers,’ Riddle told reporters at the hospital.
Conyers was rushed to a hospital just as a former aide broke her silence for the first time and spoke on the record about her accusations Conyers sexually harassed her.
Conyers’ family say the veteran lawmaker is suffering from stress-related illness.
Conyers, the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, will announce on Tuesday he does not plan to run for re-election, U.S. media said following accusations of sexual harassment against the Michigan Democrat.
Conyers is expected to make the announcement on a local radio show, the New York Times reported citing a relative. Other local media also reported the plans, citing sources close to Conyers.
His lawyer earlier said on Twitter that Conyers would make an announcement at 10:15 a.m.
FILE – In this May 24, 2016, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing. When sexual-misconduct allegations surface in the private sector, a boss really can say ‘You’re fired’ – as Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and others can attest. In the political world, it’s never that simple. Conyers, facing sexual misconduct allegations, has refused to step down even after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged the veteran Democrat from Detroit to do so. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
The House Ethics Committee last week opened an investigation into Conyers, 88, after he said his office had resolved a harassment case of a former staffer with a payment but no admission of guilt.
Conyers has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.
Congress has been reviewing policies on how to handle sexual harassment complaints after a string of cases involving prominent figures in the U.S. media, Hollywood and politics.
Conyers, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus who was first elected to the House in 1964, stepped down last month as the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.