Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, initially said Wednesday afternoon that he supported a “deliberate and thorough” investigation into “very disturbing” allegations of sexual harassment made against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) by multiple women.
Later that day, he was quoted in the New York Times striking a decidedly different tone.
“You can’t jump to conclusions with these types of things,” Clyburn said. “For all I know, all of this could be made up.”
Clyburn’s communications director, Patrick Devlin, did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment (an email to him came back with a Thanksgiving “out of office” notice). But Clyburn’s comment is striking given the array of allegations faced by Conyers, the longest serving congressman currently in the House of Representatives.
BuzzFeed News reported Monday on one former staffer of Conyers’ who alleged she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and on other claims that Conyers inappropriately touched and asked sexual favors of his staffers. The former staffer said she reached a $27,000 with Conyers.
The next day, the same outlet reported on another former staffer, unrelated to the previous article, who alleged in court documents earlier this year that Conyers made a habit of touching her inappropriately.
Conyers has denied all wrongdoing, but acknowledged reaching a settlement with a former staffer, though he said he did so without admitting guilt and primarily “in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation.”
BuzzFeed reported its first story on the Democratic congressman based on affidavits provided by the right-wing conspiracist Mike Cernovich, though the outlet said it confirmed the documents’ authenticity and further reported out the story.
The House Ethics Committee announced it was launching an investigation into Conyers Tuesday.