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Rep. John Conyers Facing More Pressure To Resign Amid Harassment Allegations


House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi said for the first time today she wants Michigan Congressman John Conyers to resign. He has been accused of sexual harassment. Conyers has been in his home district, Detroit, since Tuesday night, and so has NPR's Don Gonyea, who is with us now. Hi, Don.


MCEVERS: OK, first things first - we got word this morning that Conyers is actually in the hospital. What can you tell us about how he's doing?

GONYEA: All we know is he was suffering from stress-related symptoms. We've gotten no updates since he went in this morning. Conyers is 88 years old. He went to the hospital on the same morning that one of his accusers, a former staffer, Marion Brown, was being interviewed on network television. She's the woman who received a $27,000 settlement. So at noon today, Conyers' attorney, Arnold Reed, was outside the congressman's home. He's responding here to questions about Conyers' health but also about Nancy Pelosi's call for his resignation.


ARNOLD REED: They're not going to determine whether Congressman Conyers resigns. Congressman John Conyers will determine that - decision will be made. He will determine that when and if he makes that decision. Right now, again, his health is first and foremost.

MCEVERS: OK. Let's talk about his accuser, Marion Brown. As you said, she was paid a settlement after she accused him of sexual harassment, and she's been doing some interviews. What is she saying?

GONYEA: Well, she also recorded an interview with WDET, public radio in Detroit - their Detroit Today program. It'll air tomorrow. In it, she talks about why she broke the silence that the settlement required of her. She said she was being called a liar, and she couldn't sit back and take that. And she said Conyers made sexual advances persistently, something Conyers denies. And Brown defended coming forward in saying she has no reason at all to lie.


MARION BROWN: He's African-American. He's a Democrat. I am, too. I'm not taking away from the fact that he is a civil rights icon. You know, his personal behavior is unacceptable.

MCEVERS: We should also say a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus has also asked Conyers to resign. Tell us about that.

GONYEA: That's right. He's in the leadership. It's Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina. But still, Kelly, talking to people in the district here, a lot of them are saying that race plays a role in all of this. They say it's a double standard that Congressman Conyers is being pushed hard to resign. But they say they simply don't see the same when white politicians are accused of these same sorts of things.

MCEVERS: NPR's Don Gonyea in Detroit, thanks a lot.

GONYEA: My pleasure.

(SOUNDBITE OF IV THE POLYMATH'S "SETBACKS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.