What a charmer that John Conyers is! According to a former intern for the 27-term congressman who resigned abruptly yesterday, Conyers really knows how to turn a girl’s head — and make her run for the nearest exits. After the man described by Nancy Pelosi as an “icon” tried hitting on a college student more than fifty years younger than himself, Conyers followed up the rejection by bringing up the case of missing intern Chandra Levy — and claimed to have inside information on her case, according to the Washington Post:
Courtney Morse, 36, said she was a 20-year-old college student when Conyers propositioned her. She said Tuesday that she believes he resigned to escape further scrutiny.
“It feels like an easy way out,” Morse said. “He doesn’t have to face an investigation now. If he is vehemently denying he did anything, then it’s not about reconciling the issue. It’s about protecting his legacy.”
Morse told The Post she quit her internship after Conyers drove her home from work one night, wrapped his hand around hers as it rested in her lap, and told her he was interested in a sexual relationship. When she rejected his advances, Morse said he brought up the then-developing investigation into the disappearance of former federal intern Chandra Levy.
“He said he had insider information on the case. I don’t know if he meant it to be threatening, but I took it that way,” Morse said in an interview. “I got out of the car and ran.”
Sixteen years ago, Conyers would have been 72 years old. His proposition would have been creepy enough all by itself, especially to a 20-year-old who hadn’t considered the possibility that Conyers drove her home just to get her alone in the car after having already worked for several months in his office. Adding in that Conyers had special knowledge of an intern who had gone missing, and who had been rumored to have a relationship with the congressman for whom she had been working, would have turned the creepy amp all the way up to 11.
If Morse’s story is truthful, Conyers didn’t just target her out of an impulse. He kept his distance for a while, then began grooming her with attention and gifts, and then began inviting her to dinner in the House member restaurant. The pass and proposition — and then the implied threat — came at the end of what seems to have been a campaign of seduction targeting the college student. Small wonder that Morse didn’t come forward earlier, if she’s telling the truth now; the mention of Levy’s disappearance by a powerful House member would have been enough to keep most people’s mouth shut for a long time. The Post also got corroboration from her host family at the time, who said she told them of Conyers’ actions, including the final one in the car.
Perhaps this explains the surprising decision yesterday by Conyers to resign immediately rather than retire at the end of his term. His attorney Arnold Reed had defiantly attacked Conyers’ accusers while the Congressman recuperated in a Detroit hospital, making it appear that he would force Democrats to conduct an inquiry into the allegations. Reed also declared that any new allegations would be “ripple effects” of the earlier stories, with women rushing to add themselves to the news coverage of the story. All signs pointed to a fight, especially with Conyers’ colleagues beginning to chafe at an apparent (but not actual) double standard when it came to Al Franken.
But then Conyers suddenly resigned without participating in any serious contest of the allegations. That might have been the act of a tired old man who simply didn’t feel up to defending his reputation in an ethics inquiry, or it might have been prompted by the realization of how many women could start coming forward with stories like the one Morse tells here.