WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Democrat in the U.S. House on Thursday called on Michigan Rep. John Conyers to resign in the face of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct. Conyers’ lawyer swiftly rejected the request, saying Nancy Pelosi “sure as hell won’t be the one to tell the congressman to leave.”
House Minority Leader Pelosi called the accusations against Conyers, the longest serving member of the House, “very credible” and “serious,” and said he should step down after decades on Capitol Hill. Conyers was first elected in 1964.
Pelosi said she prayed for the 88-year-old Democratic congressman, who was hospitalized in Detroit, and his family. “However,” she said, “Congressman Conyers should resign.” Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan minute later told reporters that Conyers “should resign immediately.”
In Michigan, Conyers’ attorney, Arnold Reed, strongly dismissed the growing clamor for Conyers to step aside, coming not only from Pelosi but other Democrats. Conyers, who has insisted on his innocence, gave up his seat as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee on Sunday while holding onto his congressional seat.
Reed noted that Conyers was admitted to a Detroit hospital after feeling light-headed late Wednesday. No details about his condition have been released.
The dramatic call from Pelosi came just hours after a former aide publicly accused Conyers of sexual harassment, telling NBC’s “Today” show that she was fired for rejecting his advances.
Marion Brown, 61, said the congressman propositioned her for sex multiple times over more than a decade. Brown initially told her story to BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity, saying she’d settled a complaint in 2015 with Conyers over the allegations, according to her attorney.
“It was sexual harassment … violating my body,” Brown said Thursday. “Propositioning me. Inviting me to hotels with the guise of discussing business and then propositioning me … for sex.”
Brown told The Associated Press that if asked, she would testify before the House Ethics Committee, which is investigating Conyers. She said she would prefer to be subpoenaed, saying she and other witnesses would be more comfortable speaking publicly if they were legally compelled to do so.
Reed said Conyers will cooperate with any investigation.
On Sunday, Pelosi called Conyers an icon and argued for the due process of an Ethics Committee investigation. But on Thursday, she said: “Zero tolerance means consequences — for everyone. No matter how…