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Lawyer: Conyers won’t resign House seat, did not harass women

An attorney for embattled Rep. John Conyers told CNN on Wednesday that the Michigan Democrat will not resign as he faces an investigation by the House Ethics Committee over allegations that he sexually harassed and discriminated against members of his staff.

In a phone conversation with a CNN reporter, attorney Arnold Reed said Conyers was taking the allegations “very seriously” but did not plan to resign his House seat.

“Mr. Conyers is not going to resign,” Reed said. “If everybody that was facing ‘allegations’ — including the President, members of the House and Senate — resigned, we’d have a lot of unemployed people walking around.”

Reed added that Conyers was not taking the allegations lightly but that he is innocent of all wrongdoing.

“At the end of the day, Mr. Conyers is not guilty of harassing these women who have come forward. It didn’t happen,” he said.

Reed’s comments come hours after The Washington Post published a report that included allegations from Melanie Sloan, a Washington, DC, lawyer who worked for Conyers in the 1990s. In the report, Sloan alleged that Conyers had harassed and verbally abused her and that her appeals for help from congressional leadership were ignored.

Asked to respond to Sloan’s allegations, Reed said he was not sure there was a story.

“One of the things that comes to my mind is I’m not even sure why it’s a story, because the individual admits that my client didn’t harass her from a sexual perspective.”

Reed also cast doubt on Sloan’s assertion that she couldn’t get anyone to listen or to stop the harassment.

“When you read what is being said here juxtaposed to how powerful she was and how she initiated investigations on other people she mentioned in the story, … it is fundamentally incongruous with her statements,” he said.

Conyers faces the Ethics Committee investigation following reports that were made public this week that he had settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 after allegedly sexually harassing a staffer. The allegations were first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Conyers responded to those allegations by saying he “expressly and vehemently” denied any wrongdoing.

Court documents also revealed this week that another former staffer alleged that Conyers had sexually harassed her in 2015 and 2016. The lawsuit, which the woman later dropped after an unsuccessful attempt to seal it, was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Asked whether Conyers denied the claims in the 2017 suit, a spokesperson in Conyers’ congressional office told CNN: “The former staffer voluntarily decided to drop the case.”

By Juana Summers