Virginia politics in chaos
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax issued a statement on Saturday defending himself from a pair of sexual assault allegations. In a statement obtained by CNN's Ryan Nobles, Fairfax wrote:
This has been a devastating week for my family. It has been an especially devastating time for the great Commonwealth of Virginia.
I say again without reservation: I did not sexually assault or rape Meredith Watson, Vanessa Tyson or anyone else. Our American values don’t just work when it’s convenient — they must be applied at the most difficult of times.
As an officer of the court and a former federal prosecutor, I have dedicated my life to the law and due process. Consequently, I call on all appropriate and impartial investigatory authorities, including the FBI, to investigate fully and thoroughly the allegations against me by Ms. Watson and Dr. Tyson. I ask that all three of us be respected during this process.
The one thing I want to make abundantly clear is that in both situations I knew at the time, and I know today, that the interactions were consensual.
I heard from Dr. Tyson after the 2004 Convention, and she never said or otherwise indicated that our interaction was not consensual or caused her any discomfort.
Regarding Ms. Watson, I knew Ms. Watson in college both before and after the encounter, and she never said to me that our interaction was not consensual or caused her any discomfort.
What I have just expressed is the truth. I want to stand here in that truth and restate that my truth, as well as the truth of Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson, should be fully investigated and thoroughly assessed. I believe and trust that due process will provide the fairness, justice and honesty that is necessary. I am asking that no one rush to judgment and I am asking for there to be space in this moment for due process.
Earlier this week, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted he wore blackface as a 19-year-old to dress up as a rapper at a party in the 1980s.
Now, hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow, who Herring named in his statement, is speaking out about the blackface controversies that are dominating headlines.
"It is unfortunate that in this current climate we are confronted with the use of blackface as a barometer of where we are as a society," an Instagram post from Blow, whose real name is Kurtis Walker, began.
Here's the rest of his post:
“I am a Black man, a father, a husband, a minister, and a pioneer of Hip Hop. It is my hope that these regrettable actions can be turned into teachable moments. Moments that lead us to an increased understanding of how certain acts can impact others and reopen historical scars. We are in trying times as a country, and I ask that we come together and focus on our commonalities and not our differences. Love is the answer. Love defeats hate. Love conquers all.”
Democrats called for investigation, not resignation, after Justin Fairfax was accused of sexual assault earlier this week.
Here's a list of people so far who have called for Fairfax to resign now:
- Former Virginia Gov. Terry McCauliffe
- Sen. Cory Booker
- Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Sen. Kamala Harris
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar
- Sen. Tim Kaine
- Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro
- Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
- The Virginia House and Senate
- The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus
- Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox
- Rep. Donald McEachin, a prominent congressman for Virginia's 4th congressional district
- Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Susan Swecker
And here's a list of those who say Fairfax should resign if the allegations are true:
- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who is also facing calls to resign over a racist photo on his yearbook page
- Sen. Mark Warner
- Rep. Bobby Scott, a congressman for Virginia's 3rd congressional district
Embattled Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Saturday he feels he should remain in office to help his state heal and use the rest of his term to pursue racial "equity" — hoping to move on from a racist photograph scandal and admission of donning blackface in the past.
"It's been a horrific week for Virginia. A lot of individuals across Virginia have been hurt," Northam told The Washington Post Saturday in his first interview since the racist photograph surfaced February 1.
He acknowledged that he has "a lot more to learn," the Post reported.
Read more about his interview with the paper here.
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is no longer the chair of the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association. The group announced late on Friday night that Fairfax was out as chair and that his role would be filled by Bethany Hall-Long of Delaware and Cyrus Habib of Washington.
They did not say whether Fairfax stepped down on his own or if he was forced out.
Fairfax was chair starting in August 2018.
On Friday, a second woman came forward to say that she was raped by Democratic Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
Meredith Watson alleged that Fairfax's assault on her was "premeditated and aggressive" when they both attended Duke in 2000 and that the two were friends but not romantically involved, according to a statement from her legal counsel, the firm Smith Mullen. Fairfax denied the allegation.
"Ms. Watson shared her account of the rape with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that are now in our possession. Additionally, we have statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her," the statement reads.
Watson is the second woman to accuse Fairfax of sexual assault. Vanessa Tyson, a professor in California, released a lengthy statement early this week detailing her alleged encounter with Fairfax during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
"Ms. Watson was upset to learn that Mr. Fairfax raped at least one other woman after he attacked her. The details of Ms. Watson's attack are similar to those described by Dr. Vanessa Tyson." Fairfax has previously denied Tyson's allegation.
Read more on the allegation here.
Prior to speaking to The Washington Post, Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam told his Cabinet on Friday that he has no plans to resign in the wake of a blackface scandal that has tossed his state's government into chaos, a source with direct knowledge of the meeting told CNN.
What's going on? Northam has been under fire for a week after the public reveal of a photo on his medical school yearbook page featuring two individuals in racist costumes -- one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam initially apologized and said he was one of the people in the photo, but later recanted in an hour-long news conference, saying he was not in the picture.
Though Northam defended himself in the news conference last Saturday, he also revealed that he had worn blackface in a separate incident, when he performed dressed as Michael Jackson in a dance competition in the 1980s.
Get caught up here.