Growing pressure on Conyers to resign after new accusations
Pressure from fellow Democrats grew for Michigan Representative John Conyers to resign after a former staffer said the longest-serving member of the House made unwanted sexual advances that included partially undressing in front of her in a hotel room and inappropriate touching.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pressured the 88-year-old Conyers behind the scenes to leave the chamber, according to a senior House aide, who spoke late Tuesday on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Earlier in the day, members of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Conyers and explained to one of their founding members why he should resign, but stressed the decision was up to him, the senior House aide said.
The caucus chairman, Representative Cedric Richmond, called the meeting a "candid conversation about the seriousness of the allegations against him".
Another caucus member, Representative Bennie Thomp-son, said Conyers should, "go home and talk to his constituents and listen to them and make a decision based on that."
Conyers missed two roll call votes in the House late Tuesday and was photographed by a passenger boarding a flight to Detroit from Washington.
Early Wednesday, Conyers' son told reporters outside the family's Detroit home that it's "disconcerting" to see how his father is being treated following the allegations.
"It's very unfortunate to see him fight so long for so many people and to automatically have the allegations assumed to be true," John Conyers III said.
He noted, however: "And of course, with sexual assault, women are to be believed. But in this instance he has no history of this."
The pressure on the lawmaker first elected in 1964 came after Deanna Maher, who ran a Michigan office for Conyers from 1997 to 2005, accused him of several incidents of sexual misconduct. She told The Associated Press Tuesday that the first incident occurred in 1997 during a three-day Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington, which she said she "felt honoured" to attend.
Maher said while she was in the bedroom of a hotel suite, Conyers walked in, called room service and ordered sandwiches.
"I had my nightclothes on," said Maher, who now lives in the Holland area in western Michigan. "I was just scared to death. I was married at the time. He sat in the bedroom taking his clothes off. I didn't say anything and he didn't say anything."
Nothing happened between them, she added.
"He didn't go naked. He was down to his skivvies," Maher said. "He sat there eating sandwiches and then he stormed out and slammed the door. I was so embarrassed and ashamed of myself for being so stupid. I needed a job."