Im­peach­ment pos­si­bil­ity raised in Va.

Law­maker will pur­sue process against Fair­fax

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Alan Suderman The As­so­ci­ated Press

RICH­MOND, Va. — Vir­ginia law­mak­ers on Mon­day will re­luc­tantly face the un­prece­dented prospect of im­peach­ing the state’s sec­ond most pow­er­ful leader as they strug­gle to ad­dress rev­e­la­tions of past racist be­hav­ior and al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault roil­ing its high­est lev­els of of­fice.

At least one law­maker said he will try to pur­sue im­peach­ment of Demo­cratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fair­fax af­ter two women ac­cused Fair­fax of sex­ual as­sault in the 2000s, a move that ex­perts be­lieve would be a first in Vir­ginia.

Fair­fax has ve­he­mently de­nied the claims and called for au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the FBI, to in­ves­ti­gate.

There’s lit­tle sign of broad ap­petite for im­peach­ment, with law­mak­ers set to fin­ish this year’s ses­sion by the month’s end. But the Leg­is­la­ture is swirling with ques­tions about lines of suc­ces­sion and the po­lit­i­cal fall­out for Democrats should the gover­nor, lieu­tenant gover­nor or at­tor­ney gen­eral leave of­fice, will­ingly or not.

Gov. Ralph Northam and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark Her­ring, both Democrats, are em­broiled in their own scan­dal af­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing they wore black­face in the 1980s. Northam, a pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist, said Sun­day that he con­sid­ered re­sign­ing but that he’s “not go­ing any­where.”

Northam said on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion” that it’s been a dif­fi­cult week since a racist photo in his 1984 med­i­cal school year­book sur­faced, show­ing a per­son wear­ing black­face next to an­other per­son in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. Northam ini­tially said he was in the photo, then de­nied it the next day, while ac­knowl­edg­ing that he did wear black­face to a dance party that same year.

“Vir­ginia needs some­one that can heal. There’s no bet­ter per­son to do that than a doc­tor,” Northam said. “Vir­ginia also needs some­one who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral com­pass. And that’s why I’m not go­ing any­where.”

Demo­cratic Del. Pa­trick Hope said he wants to in­tro­duce ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment Mon­day against Fair­fax, who is black. Mered­ith Wat­son and Vanessa Tyson have ac­cused him of sex­ual as­sault and of­fered to tes­tify at any im­peach­ment hear­ing.

The lieu­tenant gover­nor is­sued a state­ment Satur­day again deny­ing he ever sex­u­ally as­saulted any­one and mak­ing clear he does not in­tend to im­me­di­ately step down.

Steve Helber The As­so­ci­ated Press

Vir­ginia Lt. Gov, Justin Fair­fax looks over a brief­ing book prior to the start of the Sen­ate ses­sion Thurs­day in Rich­mond, Va.

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