Thursday, October 20, 2016

CONYERS Blasts New GOP Conspiracy Theory About Secretary Clinton's Emails

No factual evidence shows a quid pro quo between the Department of State and the FBI

Washington, DC – Yesterday, in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the House Judiciary Committee’s majority alleged that newly-released FBI interview notes “raise serious questions about whether Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy violated federal laws . . . by offering a ‘quid pro quo’ to the FBI.”  The interview notes contain no factual basis for these claims:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
§  As early as January 2016, the Inspector General for the Department of State concluded that there was no undue or inappropriate influence in the review and classification of Secretary Clinton’s emails. 

§  The FBI released a public statement that categorically rejects the accusation, noting that “[a]lthough there was never a quid pro quo, these allegations were nonetheless referred to the appropriate officials for review.” 

§  The now-retired FBI agent who spoke to Undersecretary Kennedy has told reporters that the two matters—staffing overseas posts and the classification review of Secretary Clinton’s emails—were wholly unrelated discussions, and no exchange or deal linking the matters was ever proposed.

§  FBI files released weeks ago explained that Undersecretary Kennedy “‘categorically rejected’ allegations that he attempted [to] influence FOIA markings to protect and/or mask classified information.”

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), today released the following statement:

“The FBI, the Department of State, and virtually every individual with firsthand knowledge of the pertinent facts have flatly denied allegations of any attempt to arrange a quid pro quo on Secretary Clinton’s behalf.  The FBI looked into the matter and found no evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.  There is no new factual information in these interview notes that would lead us to believe otherwise. 

“The majority will find few answers in unsupported and unsubstantiated speculation.  I hope that when we return to Washington in November, there is room for more substantive discussion.”

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A new vision for Detroit’s children

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Children growing up in low-income communities face many challenges. But there is one that should be simple to fix: making sure every child with vision problems has the glasses necessary to succeed in the classroom.
Seventeen percent of students screened last school year by the Detroit Health Department were identified as needing glasses, but less than 2 percent of those who failed the screening actually got glasses.
Many of these children struggle at school because they can’t see properly. One in five students have vision problems that can affect their ability to achieve in school, a number that amounts to nearly two million children nationwide. The problem is especially acute for children in low-income communities. One study in Los Angeles found that 95 percent of first-graders in low-income communities who needed glasses did not have them.
The impacts on these children are profound. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers. Studies indicate that vision problems not only lead to poor academic performance, but also tend to cause self-esteem issues and even anti-social behavior.
This should not be happening. Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Affordable Care Act all cover vision services for children. Every child is entitled under these programs to receive the glasses they need. The fact that millions of schoolchildren cannot see the board is actually about access to vision care, not coverage.
Thanks to the innovative work of community leaders in Detroit, the Detroit Public Health Department, the Detroit Public Schools and a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, Vision To Learn, recently announced the launch of a new program designed to get glasses to children in need.
This new public-private partnership will bring mobile vision clinics to the Detroit schools where children in need of glasses spend their days. Instead of hoping that children find their way to a doctor’s office for a vision screening, the vision center will come to the student. If a screened child needs glasses, he or she will be provided with a stylish pair of their choosing—at no cost to the family. This entire effort costs about $100 per child; it represents a sound and savvy investment in our future.
Our challenge is to make sure that this kind of effort is sustainable over the long term and can be spread to other communities in Michigan and across the nation. While Vision To Learn is launching this program in Detroit through generous philanthropic donations, there are limits to what charities can do. A successful and expanded program requires us to rethink how vision services can be delivered to children. We need to ensure we do so in a manner that is efficient and eligible for reimbursement by federal and state programs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should take note of what’s happening in Detroit and determine how the federal government can help expand these critical vision services to other jurisdictions in Michigan and throughout the country. When philanthropic efforts are combined with the innovative thinking of local government leaders like those in Detroit, we achieve great things for our communities and our children.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Top House Dems Call for FBI Action on Trump Campaign’s Advance Knowledge of Ongoing Russian Cyber Hacking to Affect Election


Washington, D.C. (Oct. 14, 2016)—Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, John Conyers, Jr., Elliot L. Engel, and Bennie G. Thompson, the Ranking Members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, and Homeland Security, issued the following statement in response to evidence that the Trump campaign apparently knew months beforehand about the hacking of emails from the account of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta:

“Troubling new evidence appears to show that the Trump campaign not only was aware of cyber attacks against Secretary Clinton’s campaign chairman, but was openly bragging about it as far back as August.  For months, we have been asking the FBI to examine links between the Trump campaign and illegal Russian efforts to affect our election, including interviewing Trump advisor Roger Stone.  In light of this new evidence—and these exceptional circumstances—we call on the FBI to fully investigate and explain to the American people what steps it is taking to disrupt this ongoing criminal activity.  Elections are the bedrock of our nation’s democracy and a model we hold out to the world, so we must counter any foreign or domestic efforts to threaten the integrity of our electoral process.” 

Roger Stone’s Public Statements About Upcoming Podesta Attacks

This past August, Trump adviser Roger Stone sent out messages on Twitter indicating that he had been informed personally about upcoming cyber attacks on campaign chairman John Podesta.

This followed:

On October 3, 2016, Stone tweeted:

Four days later, October 7, 2016, WikiLeaks publicly released emails illegally hacked from Podesta’s email account.

Roger Stone’s Public Statements About Backchannel Communications with WikiLeaks

Stone has stated repeatedly in public appearances that he communicates directly and through back channels with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

On August 8, 2016, Stone stated publicly that he communicated withAssange about the upcoming release of illegally-hacked emails.  Stone made these statements during a Republican campaign event while answering a question about a potential “October surprise.”

On August 13, 2016, Stone stated publicly that his own email accounts had been hacked “as soon as it became publicly known that I was in communication with Julian Assange.”

On October 12, 2016, Stone stated publicly:  “I do have a back-channelcommunication with Assange.”

Previous Letter to FBI About Allegations of Coordination Between Trump Campaign and Russians

On August 30, 2016, Reps. Cummings, Conyers, Engel, and Thompson sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey requesting that the FBI assess whether connections between the Trump campaign and Russian interests contributed to cyber attacks against the Democratic campaign organizations to interfere with the election.  The letter stated:  “It is unclear whether U.S. law enforcement authorities have interviewed Mr. Stone about his communications with Mr. Assange or about his knowledge of how WikiLeaks obtained the illegally-hacked documents.”

On September 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Judiciary Committee, but would not directly answer questions about any investigation regarding these matters.  Instead, he stated that the FBI is examining “just what mischief is Russia up to in connection with our election.”

On October 7, 2016, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement concluding: 

“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.  The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts.  These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.  Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there.  We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”

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CONYERS Applauds DOJ Decision To Collect Data On Use Of Force

Detroit, MI – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Justice announced plans to collect data on the use of force by law enforcement officers:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“As a longtime proponent of policing reform, I understand the importance that data collection plays as a tool for law enforcement accountability. Data collection is the foundation for accountability management and will help ensure that law enforcement officers can implement best practices to address accountability issues that have been at the center of protests for the past several years. This is a major step in the right direction, but there is more we need to do at the federal level to ensure comprehensive nationwide data collection as we seek to reform our current system of policing. I look forward to building upon the Department of Justice’s efforts as we work in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen a version of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act which is currently pending before the Committee.”

Ranking Member Conyers introduced both the End Racial Profiling Act and the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act to help build trust and strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.  Conyers and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) are currently negotiating a version of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act. In July 2016, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers announced a bipartisan working group to examine the use of excessive force by police, aggression towards law enforcement, and public safety concerns related to these issues.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

CONYERS Leads Effort for Diversity In Federal Reserve Bank Leadership

Washington, DC - Reps.  John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee;  John Lewis (D-GA), a senior member of the House Ways & Means Committee; David Scott (D-GA), a senior member of the Financial Services Committee; and Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member on the Financial Services Committee, urged the Federal Reserve to conduct an inclusive, transparent search for the next President of the Reserve Bank of Atlanta, one that engages candidates from many diverse backgrounds.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
In a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Thomas Fanning, Chairman of the Atlanta Fed, the Members emphasized the need for Federal Reserve policymakers to account for our nation’s grave racial disparities in terms of unemployment, wages, and income in the development of monetary policy, especially since the economic downturn severely damaged the already tenuous financial security of traditionally underserved communities.  In the sixth Federal Reserve district, where the new president will serve, unemployment and poverty rates for African-Americans, for example, are about double those for white Americans.

Presidents of the 11 other reserve banks have all worked for major financial firms or at the Federal Reserve before their appointments.  The Members urged the Fed to consider a wider range of backgrounds, including academia, labor, and non-profit institutions, to capture the perspectives of all Americans as they develop economic policy.  Since the appointment of Andrew Brimmer to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors by Lyndon Johnson, there have been only a few minority governors, and no African-American or Latino bank presidents have ever been appointed.  Currently there is one Asian bank president, Neel Kashkari, who heads the Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

report by the Center for Popular Democracy in February 2016 showed that the overwhelming majority of Reserve Bank directors and presidents are white, and there has never been an African-American or Latino Federal Reserve Bank president in the Fed’s history.  In May, 127 Members of Congress, led by Congressman John Conyers, Jr., signed a letter urging for more diversity and a greater focus on high employment in minority communities at the Fed. 

“Selecting the first African-American or Latino Regional Bank president would be a historic milestone for the Federal Reserve, and I greatly appreciate Chair Yellen’s focus on increasing diversity.  But given the Fed’s long history of prioritizing low inflation over job creation, the candidate also should be truly committed to full employment and possess deep knowledge of labor market disparities that too often leave workers, especially workers of color, behind,” said Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus.

“With this search, the Federal Reserve has a unique opportunity to restore confidence in our financial system by including the perspectives and experiences of a wider range of Americans,” Rep. John Lewis said.  “Metro Atlanta was hit hard by the Great Recession, and many people in the South are still mired in poverty due to that downturn.  In light of recent crises, the Federal Reserve should look far and wide to find the best person for this important job, not only within its own network.  The Fed has a responsibility to ensure that the financial needs of the most vulnerable are considered within the policymaking process.”                                      

“The Federal Reserve has an opportunity to do something very significant with the recent retirement announcement of the current President of the Atlanta Federal Bank,” said Rep. David Scott.  “We’ve never had an African American Regional Fed president.  I’m asking the Federal Reserve to take this opportunity to make history.  We have many exceptionally qualified African Americans who can do this.”

In September, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart announced his retirement, effective in February 2017.  To find a new president, the Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will identify and consider candidates, who then must be interviewed and approved by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.  The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks and covers Georgia, Florida, Alabama, eastern Tennessee, southern Mississippi, and southern Louisiana.

Congressman Conyers launched the 32-member Congressional Full Employment Caucus in February 2014. Full employment is defined as the lowest possible unemployment rate that the economy can reach. Congressman Conyers has introduced several pieces of legislation to further that goal:  H.R. 1000, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act of 2015, which would tax Wall Street speculation to guarantee a job or training to every American who wants to work; H.R. 3531The Full Employment Federal Reserve Act, which instructs the Federal Reserve bank to target a four percent national unemployment rate – the rate reached in the late 1990s; and H.R.3674The Labor Statistics Improvement Act, which would create a commission to ensure that unemployment statistics accurately reflect the reality on the ground for job seekers. The Congressional Full Employment Caucus serves as a platform and working group for Members of Congress who are dedicated to identifying solutions and advocating for legislative action to reduce unemployment. 

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

CONYERS Announces More Than $2 Million In Federal Funding For Detroit And Melvindale Police Departments

Detroit, MI – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) today announced more than $2 million in federal funding for police departments in Detroit and Melvindale. The federal funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Hiring Program (CHP) and will be used to hire law enforcement officers, and to enhance community policing and crime prevention efforts.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“I am pleased that the Justice Department is awarding more than $2 million in federal funds to Detroit and Melvindale,” said Congressman Conyers.  “It is particularly important during times of budget constraints on local governments that the federal government provide the resources needed to help make our communities safer while encouraging the use of policing methods that build trust and positively engage our citizens. I have supported the COPS program from its inception in 1994 during the Presidency of Bill Clinton and will continue to fight for funding that supports our local officers and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve.”   

Through the CHP, the city of Detroit will receive $1,841,472 and the city of Melvindale will receive $250,000. This funding is part of $119 million in grants distributed to police departments across the country. 

More information on the U.S. Department of Justice COPS program can be found here. 

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Floor Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. for the Veto Override Vote on “S. 2040, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, jr.
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States constituted the deadliest foreign attack on American soil in our Nation’s history.

Their impact has been immeasurable as evidenced by the fact that we are still grappling with their cultural and policy implications.

And, 15 years later, their powerful emotional effect on Americans remains as strong as ever.

Those who lost loved ones or were injured as a result of this horrific attack deserve our deepest sympathy and our help.

And, it is in this vein that we consider whether to override the President’s veto of S. 2040, the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” which, among other things, amends the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 to create a new exception to the Act’s general grant of foreign sovereign immunity. 

The bill’s supporters present compelling and sympathetic arguments in favor of insuring that the 9/11 families have access to a well-deserved “day in court.”

In his veto message, however, the President raised a number of serious substantive concerns about the potential unintended consequences of this legislation.

First, the President stated that S. 2040 could undermine the effectiveness of our Nation’s national security and counter-terrorism efforts. 

For instance, other nations may become more reluctant to share sensitive intelligence in light of the greater risk that such information may be revealed in litigation.

Moreover, the President raised the concern that this legislation would effectively allow non-expert private litigants and courts, rather than national security and foreign policy experts, to determine key foreign and national security policy questions like which states are sponsors of terrorism.

Second, the President asserted that enactment of S. 2040 may lead to retaliation by other countries against the United States given the breadth of our interests and the expansive reach of our global activities.

While it seems likely at this juncture that S. 2040 will be enacted over the President’s veto, I remain hopeful that we can continue to work toward the enactment of subsequent legislation to address the President’s concerns.

I understand the moral imperative of enacting legislation in this matter, but I am sensitive to the seriousness of the concerns that the President raised.

I had expressed the hope during the Floor debate on this bill that Congress and the President could work together to find a better balance that would still enable 9/11 victims to seek justice while tempering the President’s concerns.

There is no doubt as to the passion that the bill’s supporters bring to advocating for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, a passion that I share.

As legislators, however, we must be driven not only by understandable emotions, but by thoughtful consideration of the long-term interests of our country.  For this reason, the expected outcome of today’s vote should not be the end of this matter.

For the forgoing reasons, and those stated by the President, national security experts, international law scholars, and others, however, I must vote to sustain the President’s veto.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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