Conyers stepping aside as ranking Dem on House Judiciary Committee

Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersConyers III won't appear on primary ballot in race to replace his father Conyers's son in danger of missing ballot in Michigan Eric Schneiderman and #MeToo pose challenges for both parties MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) announced he is stepping aside as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee pending an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.

“After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters," he said in a statement on Sunday.

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“I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger. I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics," he added.

Conyers's attorney last week maintained that the lawmaker would not resign from the post as the House Ethics Committee investigates the allegations.

The Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Conyers after BuzzFeed News reported last week that Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not "succumb to [his] sexual advances."

Other staffers alleged that he made requests for sexual favors, inappropriately touched staffers and used congressional resources to transport women that they believed he was having sexual relationships with at the time.

Shortly after the report was published, another woman came forward with allegations that the lawmaker harassed and verbally abused her while she worked for him in the 1990s.

Mike Cernovich, a Trump supporter who has pushed conspiracy theories such as "Pizzagate," provided the documents to BuzzFeed News after reportedly offering to pay $10,000 for the records. BuzzFeed said it independently confirmed the documents' authenticity.

"Not alt right but it’s always nice to get a shout out from a Congressman on his way out," Cernovich tweeted on Sunday.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiElection fears recede for House Republicans Senate harassment bill runs into opposition from House 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? MORE (D-Calif.) in a statement about Conyers's decision to step aside stressed that “zero tolerance means consequences.”

“We must ensure the Congress has a climate of dignity and respect with zero tolerance,” she added.

During an appearance earlier Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Pelosi called Conyers an "icon" who deserves "due process."

Conyers, the longest-serving current member of the House, has said he will "fully cooperate" with the Ethics Committee's investigation.

His announcement came after several Democratic lawmakers called for him to step down from his powerful post.

One of his House colleagues, Rep. Kathleen RiceKathleen Maura RicePelosi needs big cushion to return as Speaker Four lawmakers offer bill to permanently ban earmarks America has a broken political system our leaders need to fix MORE (D-N.Y.), on Friday called for the Michigan lawmaker to resign amid the allegations.

Rep. Jerry NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDem lawmaker: Classified DOJ meetings were ‘improper’ Hillicon Valley: House Dems release Russia-linked Facebook ads | Bill would block feds from mandating encryption 'back doors' | AT&T hired Cohen for advice on Time Warner merger | FCC hands down record robocall fine | White House launches AI panel Top House Judiciary Dem rips Nunes memo accusing FBI of bias MORE (D-N.Y.) will take over from Conyers as the acting ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, a spokesman confirmed.

Nadler is the highest in seniority among Democrats on the panel after Conyers.

“I will do everything in my power to continue to press on the important issues facing our committee, including criminal justice reform, workplace equality, and holding the Trump Administration accountable. Ranking Member Conyers has a 50 year legacy of advancing the cause of justice, and my job moving forward is to continue that critical work,” Nadler said in a statement.

— This report was updated at 1:31 p.m.