Congressional investigation launched after sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 11:19 AM
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 2:24 PM

In this April 4, 2017, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Buzzfeed, a news website, is reporting that Conyers settled a complaint in 2015 from a woman who alleged she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Alex Brandon/AP
In this April 4, 2017, file photo, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Buzzfeed, a news website, is reporting that Conyers settled a complaint in 2015 from a woman who alleged she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)(Alex Brandon/AP)

Update 4:40 p.m. Nov. 21: The House Ethics Committee has started an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s urging.

Update 2:30 p.m. Nov. 21: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation Tuesday after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress.

"As members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse,” Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement. “As I have said before, any credible allegation of sexual harassment must be investigated by the ethics committee.”

Conyers, D-Michigan, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was unaware of any allegations that he acted inappropriately toward women.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that Conyers’ office paid a $27,000 settlement in 2015 to a woman who claimed she was fired from the lawmaker’s office because she refused his sexual advances. 

Original report: U.S. Rep. John Conyers denied on Tuesday that he’s settled sexual harassment complaints by staff members in the wake of a report that his office paid a former female employee $27,000 to settle a harassment-related wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015.

>> Read more trending news

Conyers, D-Michigan, told The Associated Press that he was unaware of any allegations that he has acted inappropriately toward women. He told the news wire that he only learned of the BuzzFeed News report that detailed the complaints on Tuesday morning.

A woman told BuzzFeed that she filed a wrongful dismissal complaint against Conyers in 2014 after he fired because she would not "succumb to (his) sexual advances."

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

The case was settled in 2015. The woman, who was not identified, signed a confidentiality agreement and was rehired as a temporary employee with no job responsibilities. Over the course of three months, she was paid $27,000, BuzzFeed reported.

Documents from the case included signed affidavits from four other former Conyers staff members who said the lawmaker "repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually and rubbing their legs and backs in public."

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, called the BuzzFeed report “extremely troubling” and reiterated that a review of House of Representative workplace harassment and discrimination policies was underway.

Ryan announced last week that the House of Representatives was implementing a new mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training policy for members and staff.

“Additional reforms to the system are under consideration as the committee continues its review,” Ryan said Tuesday. “People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination.” 

>> Related: George H.W. Bush accused of groping woman while in office

Since 1997, Congress’ Office of Compliance has paid federal employees $17.2 million to settle complaints of employment rule violations, including complaints of sexual harassment, The Washington Post reported. The $27,000 paid to Conyers’ former employee in 2015 is not among those numbers, as the funds came from the representative’s office budget, according to BuzzFeed.

Conyers, who was first elected in 1964, is currently the longest-serving member of Congress, with 52 years of service.

He is the second sitting senator to face accusations of inappropriate conduct toward women. A woman on Monday accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, of groping her as they posed for a photograph together at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Franken, who was accused last week of forcing himself on a Los Angeles news anchor in 2006, assumed office in 2009.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Lyrid meteor shower 2018: 8 stunning photos of the celestial display

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:25 AM

The milky way and traces of meteors illuminate the sky over Burg on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, northern Germany, Friday, April 20, 2018, during the Lyrid meteor shower. (Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP)
Daniel Reinhardt/AP
The milky way and traces of meteors illuminate the sky over Burg on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, northern Germany, Friday, April 20, 2018, during the Lyrid meteor shower. (Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP)(Daniel Reinhardt/AP)

This year's Lyrid meteor shower reached its peak this weekend, and photographers flocked to social media to share some stunning snapshots of the celestial display.

See the images below:

>> MORE: Lyrid meteor shower 2018: When, where and how to watch | More trending news 

Trending - Most Read Stories

Waffle House shooting: 4 dead after nude gunman opens fire in Tennessee; victims identified

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:12 AM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 7:48 PM

Police: 4 Dead After Waffle House Shooting by Nude Gunman

At least four people are dead after a shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee.

Killed were Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29, a Waffle House employee who was outside the restaurant when the gunman opened fire; Joe R. Perez, 20, of Nashville, who was a patron standing outside the restaurant; Akilah Dasilva, 23, of Antioch, who was wounded inside the restaurant and died at Vanderbilt University Medial Center; and DeEbony Groves, 21, of Gallatin, a senior at Belmont University in Nashville. 

>> Read more trending news 

Trending - Most Read Stories

California couple tortured, burned Vietnam veteran as children watched, police say

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 10:09 PM

File photo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A couple tortured a Vietnam War veteran in order to gain access to his financial and personal information and then took their children with them when they burned his body in a rural field, police said. 

>> Read more trending news

Kenneth Coyle, 70, a Vietnam War veteran and contractor at Naval Air Station Lemoore, became friends with Stacie Mendoza, a restaurant server who befriended him and later killed him with her husband, Jose Mendoza, according to Hanford police

"We think she manipulated that relationship to gain his trust and defraud him of money," Cpt. Karl Anderson, of the Hanford Police Department, said at a press conference. "As this relationship grew, we know that Ms. Mendoza started getting access to his bank account information and started getting money from him."

Police said Stacie Mendoza began defrauding Coyle a couple of weeks ago, but escalated the grift on April 5 and April 6, when she and her husband restrained Coyle to a bed and beat him in order to get his bank account information, passwords and other personal information, police said. 

Days later, the Mendozas loaded Coyle’s body into their car and burned it in a field as their children watched, police said. 

The Mendozas returned to Coyle’s house last week to steal more items and were questioned by property management employees. The employees were suspicious of the couple, who said the veteran had been injured and was recovering at a care home, investigators said. 

Police arrested Stacie and Jose Mendoza at a Denny’s restaurant near Los Angeles International Airport. Jose Mendoza had Coyle’s credit card and a ticket to El Salvador in his possession, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The couple was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. They are being held without bail. Their children were put in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Back at White House, Trump week set to focus on foreign policy

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:52 PM

After a two-day meeting last week with the Japanese Prime Minister in Florida, more diplomacy is in the future for President Donald Trump this week, as he receives two major European leaders at the White House, with the French President and German Chancellor coming to Washington, D.C. for meetings with Mr. Trump.

One of the main topics is expected to be the Iran nuclear deal, which the President has repeatedly threatened to abandon; that threat will draw the attention of both the French and German leaders.

“Would it be a mistake for the President to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal?” Macron was asked on Fox News Sunday.

“I don’t have any plan B for nuclear against Iran,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

Here are some of the issues likely to come up this week as Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold separate talks with Mr. Trump:

1. Iran nuclear deal squarely in Trump’s focus. Since way back on the 2016 campaign, President Trump has made clear that he wants to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, but aides so far have steered him clear of that move, arguing the agreement includes not only the U.S., but Europe as well. Mr. Trump’s latest deadline for action is May 12, when another waiver of economic sanctions against Iran is due for action by the President. It’s not clear what type of deal the U.S. and Europe could develop which would be accepted by Iran. And it’s an issue that certainly has the attention of much of Europe.

2. Trump continues to ruffle feathers over trade. Whether it is with American farmers or foreign governments, the President’s push to levy new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, as well as possibly billions of dollars in products from China, the President has roiled world markets and relations with other world leaders, as many in his own party warn against starting a trade war with Beijing. In order to get his message directly to Mr. Trump, the French leader went on Fox News Sunday to say that the idea of tariffs on friends is not a good strategy for dealing with allies like France. It’s still not clear if Europe will get an exemption from the new steel and aluminum tariffs.

3. Nailing down the details of a Kim Jong Un summit. As Macron and Merkel arrive, the President and the White House seem certain to be pressed this week on what’s next with scheduling a meeting between Mr. Trump and the North Korean leader. Some reports have indicated that such a summit would take place in Europe – Sweden and Switzerland have been mentioned as possible sites – but so far, nothing has been hammered out. On Sunday, Mr. Trump mocked those who have raised questions over what might be achieved with a U.S.-North Korean summit. “Funny how all of the Pundits that couldn’t come close to making a deal on North Korea are now all over the place telling me how to make a deal!” the President tweeted.

4. Mar-a-Lago no refuge from Russia probe; neither is DC. While the President was at his Florida retreat for six days last week, the Russia probe continued to rage around Mr. Trump – and Mr. Trump seems certain to hear more about this week, whether it’s the fallout from the release of memos by former FBI Director James Comey, or other items. At a news conference with the Japanese Prime Minister in Florida, the President told reporters, ‘there was no collusion with Russia.’ Over the weekend, Mr. Trump continued his Twitter jabs at Comey, labeling him a “proven liar and leaker.” The President even seemed to take a shot at his Attorney General as well over investigating Comey and Hillary Clinton.

5. The President’s personal lawyer remains in legal limbo. After challenging the legality of an April 9 FBI raid, Michael Cohen will evidently not be getting any quick action on his effort to suppress any evidence uncovered by the feds. A special FBI team will be able to continue to evaluate evidence seized, as the judge in the case set a status hearing on the matter for May 24 – almost five weeks from now. Federal Judge Kimba Wood has said she might let the FBI “taint team” review the evidence, or appoint a ‘special master’ to oversee any questions about attorney-client privilege involving Cohen and the President. That is not good news for Cohen, and not good news for the White House, as this story may not be going anywhere before Memorial Day.

Trending - Most Read Stories