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Democratic congressman tells NYT Conyers accusations "could be made up"

Congress harassment claims

A member of House Democratic leadership told the New York Times he isn't sure if the sexual harrassment claims leveled against his colleague Rep. John Conyers "have any real substance."

While many of his Democratic colleagues say the accusations should be taken seriously, Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, doubted the accusations levied against Conyers to the New York Times. Conyers has denied the accusations, after Buzzfeed News reported that he settled a complaint with a former staffer who said she was fired because she wouldn't give in to his sexual advances, and another former scheduler accused Conyers of "daily" harassment in a lawsuit she eventually dropped because the judge refused to seal the case. 

"You can't jump to conclusions with these types of things," Clyburn said, despite the documented complaints. "For all I know, all of this could be made up."

Conyers, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, has been accused of making advances to female staffers including requests for sex acts, caressing their hands sexually, rubbing their legs and backs in public and having them contact and transport other women with whom they believe Conyers was having an affair, according to Buzzfeed News. The former scheduler who dropped her suit when the court would not seal the documents said in the court documents that Conyers' behavior caused her to suffer "insomnia, anxiety, depression and chest pains." The documents also claimed Conyers' wife, Monica Conyers, called the woman a "whore" and accused her of wanting to have an affair with her husband, according to Buzzfeed News. 

Report: Rep. Conyers settled sex harassment complaint in 2015

Conyers, who initially denied the allegations and settlement, later issued a statement denying allegations about his conduct, but acknowledging the allegations were resolved. 

"My office resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative," Conyers said in a statement.

Allegations of sexual misconduct in Congress have rocked Capitol Hill in recent days. Last month, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, said she herself has been harassed by a high-ranking congressional staffer. Days later, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, was accused of grabbing and forcefully kissing a woman before he entered the Senate. Another woman came forward to allege Franken grabbed her butt at a Minnesota State Fair after he joined the Senate. 

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the Alabama Senate race, where the GOP candidate Roy Moore is accused of inappropriately pursuing teenage girls when he was in his 30s. One of the accusers said she was 14 and Moore was 32 when he sexually touched her, while another woman said she was 16 when Moore grabbed her neck and attempted to pull her head towards his crotch. Moore and his campaign have denied the allegations as fake news and an attempt by the establishment GOP to get a conservative candidate out of the race. A number of GOP senators have called for Moore to step aside, but President Trump — in his first time personally speaking out about Moore — said Monday that "we don't need a liberal" in the Senate.

"He denies it, look he denies it," Mr. Trump told reporters Tuesday before leaving for Mar-a-Lago for the Thanksgiving holiday. "If you look at what is really going on, if you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And you know, you have to listen to him also."

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