U.S. Rep. John Conyers announced his plans to retire Tuesday morning, an announcement that comes amid a series of sexual harassment allegations. Conyers is the longest currently serving representative; in his more than 50 years in Congress, he been a champion of civil rights.
In his announcement, Conyers endorsed his son John Conyers III to replace him. He described his plans as a retirement rather than resignation, but suggested the effect would be immediate.
“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now. This too shall pass,” Conyers said on Mildred Gaddis’s Detroit radio show. “My legacy will continue through my children.”
Conyers faced mounting pressure to resign, after several Michigan Democrats and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called on him to resign last week. The allegations against Conyers first broke in late November with a report from Buzzfeed that outlined how he used federal funds to secretly settle a sexual harassment claim. Since the initial report, several more women have come forward with accusations.
Conyers has repeatedly denied the accusations and maintained this stance during his announcement Tuesday morning.
“They’re not accurate, they’re not true and they’re something I can’t explain where they came from.”
Monday, supporters of Conyers rallied in Detroit, calling for due process and encouraging him not to resign. According to the Detroit Free Press, supporters at the rally compared Conyer’s situation with other prominent politicians, like Sen. Al Franken, Senate candidate Roy Moore and President Donald Trump, who faced sexual harassment or assault allegations and have not faced the same pressure to step down.
“We have one commonality today and it is called due process,” said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, according to the Free Press. “Why is it that John Conyers is the only individual to be denied due process? It is apparent that if we’re going to raise this unholy and unlawful guillotine, calling for the head of John Conyers, then in fairness we must begin with the president of the United States. Mr. Trump currently has 15 women who have accused him of sexual harassment. He has told the world and embarrassed the nation by telling how he treats women.”