Attorney: Conyers to assess future plans based on health
DETROIT (AP) — An attorney for Michigan Rep. John Conyers said on Friday that the congressman will discuss in the next few days whether to resign following allegations of sexual misconduct, but his health will be the paramount factor and not pressure from Washington politicians.
Arnold Reed told a news conference Friday that he will be meeting with doctors to assess the medical prognosis for the 88-year-old Conyers following a second round of medical tests.
Facing growing calls for his resignation, Conyers returned to Detroit from Washington on Tuesday and was hospitalized the next day. He remains there although no details of his condition have been released.
“We will discuss in the next day or so what Mr. Conyers plans to do. As you know his health is not the best. It’s not what it should be,” Reed said. “It will be Congressman John Conyers who decides what it is he is going to do.”
Reed told reporters that he had not spoken Conyers in two days, allowing his client to rest.
Multiple women have accused Conyers of sexual misconduct including inappropriate touching and harassment.
Striking a defiant tone, Reed continued to stress that Conyers denies he sexually-harassed anyone.
A number of fellow Democrats have called on Conyers to resign, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and fellow Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has also urged Conyers to step down.
The House Ethics Committee has been reviewing the allegations against Conyers, who is the longest-serving current member of the House. He has stepped aside from his post as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The accusations against Conyers are part of a wave of allegations against titans of entertainment, media and sports since the explosive reports of sexual misconduct by Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein.
A Nov. 20 BuzzFeed report said that Conyers’ office paid a woman more than $27,000 under a confidential agreement to settle a complaint in 2015 that she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his advances. Marion Brown has since publicly alleged that Conyers propositioned her for sex multiple times over more than a decade.
Brown is preparing to testify sometime next week before the House Ethics Committee, her attorney, Lisa Bloom told The Associated Press Friday.
“We hope it will take place next week in an open forum,” Bloom said of the hearing.
Another former staff member, Deanna Maher, who ran a Michigan office for Conyers from 1997 to 2005, accused Conyers of sexual misconduct including partially undressing in front of her and feeling her legs in a vehicle.
A former scheduler alleged sexual harassment, retaliation and a hostile work environment in a February 2017 proposed complaint, but took no further action after a judge refused to file it under seal.
Brown, 61, worked for Conyers in a variety of capacities from 2003 until 2014, mostly in the Detroit district office. Brown said she kept the job partly because she had four children in college.
But Reed questioned why the women continued to work for Conyers if he harassed them and said that a number of other people around the congressman saw a positive interaction between Conyers and the women.
He especially attacked Brown’s credibility, called her an “opportunist.”
He showed reporters a photo of Conyers and Brown standing next to each and smiling for the camera around six years ago at an annual attorneys’ ball.
He also said that Brown asked Conyers to hire her daughter and he did.
“When you bring your daughter into a situation that you describe that is completely hell, it is fundamentally incongruous with anything that resembles logic and truth,” Reed said.
Bloom responded: “I’m not going to debate the facts of this case with Mr. Conyers’ attorney in the media.”