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Rep. Conyers steps down from committee while lawmakers probe harassment claims

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Congressman John Conyers is stepping down as ranking Democratic lawmaker of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, while lawmakers investigate allegations of sexual harassment against him, Conyers said in an emailed statement Sunday.

Conyers said that while he denies the claims, his continued presence during a congressional ethics review of the allegations was a distraction. “I cannot in good conscience allow these charges to undermine my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, and my friends on both sides of the aisle in the Judiciary Committee,” Conyers said.

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The House of Representatives Ethics Committee said last week it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment against the Democratic congressman from Michigan, who said his office had resolved a harassment case with a payment but no admission of guilt.

The allegations against Conyers came to light as Congress reviews policies on how to handle sexual harassment complaints. They followed a string of such complaints against prominent figures in the U.S. media, Hollywood and politics.

“In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me and continue to do so,” said Conyers, who is one of America’s most prominent black lawmakers.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called for “zero tolerance” on sexual harassment in a statement released after Conyers’ email. “We are at a watershed moment on this issue, and no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment.”

(Reporting by Joel Schectman; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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Chinese fans grieve for NBA superstar Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

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NBA star Kobe Bryant's death triggered an outpouring of grief on Monday in China, where he was beloved by fans, with a hashtag of the news drawing more than a billion views.

Nine people were killed in a helicopter crash including Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Los Angeles officials confirmed on Sunday.

Basketball is arguably the most popular sport in China, and Bryant -- a five-time NBA champion who blogged for Chinese internet giant SINA in 2009 -- was among the first American stars to garner a large fan base in the country.

He remained popular in China after his retirement in 2016, frequently engaging via social media with Chinese fans.

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Bolton’s firsthand evidence puts senators in the difficult position of believing ‘bizarro’ Trump team argument: Legal experts

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Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe agreed that the recent revelations from John Bolton, puts Republicans in a difficult position. Bolton's manuscript confirmed that President Donald Trump's bribery scheme puts senators in the difficult position of being faced with firsthand witnesses they've tried to block.

Republicans were given multiple opportunities to agree that they would like to hear witnesses and new evidence as part of the impeachment trial in the Senate, but each time, they voted against it. But with the news Bolton released Sunday night, it forces senators to acknowledge they deny even firsthand evidence of Trump's guilt.

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Democratic senator says she gets more ‘disheartened’ every day hearing GOP deny evidence and witnesses

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Day after day, Republicans senators find new excuses to dismiss the evidence they hear that in any courtroom would convict an ordinary American citizen. It was enough to make normally happy Sen. Debbie Stabenow (R-MI) feel "disheartened" by the whole process.

"As somebody from Michigan, we believe in commonsense, and you can't look at all this and say, 'is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?'" said Stabenow. "And you can't look at this and say, 'Is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?' All of this coming out over and over again. I'll never forget Adam Schiff on the floor saying to all of us, 'Nobody's saying, well, gosh, Donald Trump would never do that.' The truth is it's all about will he get away with it? It's all about, are they going to be successful in hiding it and so on?"

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