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Uncertainty remains for Northam, Fairfax amid controversies

Northam does TV interview, pushes forward. Fairfax calls for investigation

RICHMOND, Va. – Uncertainty remains for top Virginia Democrats.

Gov. Ralph Northam is digging in, apologizing and saying he wants to move forward from his controversy over racial insensitivity.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is losing support from his inner circle as he continues to deny the sexual assault allegations against him.

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There are now widespread calls for an investigation into the accusations against Fairfax -- including from the Democrat himself. He’s made a plea for the FBI to get involved, which legal experts say isn’t going to happen.

Media outlets reported Monday afternoon that four of his six staffers have resigned -- two governmental workers and two members of his political action committee.

Fairfax is again denying sexual assault allegations against him from two women, one of whom says he raped her while at Duke University in 2000. Both women now say they would publicly testify at an impeachment hearing.

Reporters followed Fairfax down a hallway Monday inside the capitol.

“We’ve called for an independent investigation, and I am still very confident in the truth,” Fairfax told them.

Many Democrats say they want Fairfax gone.

Despite plans announced Friday to bring articles of impeachment Monday against the lieutenant governor, Democratic delegates backed off, instead calling for an investigation.

It’s not clear what form an investigation would take.

“I want (the women’s) voices to be heard. I believe them. I believe in their account. It’s very clear to me they are telling the truth,” said Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington County, who initially said he would bring articles of impeachment.

It's unprecedented for a statewide elected official in Virginia to face impeachment proceedings in the modern era, according to an expert on the Virginia Constitution.

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Northam, however, could be gaining support.

A few black leaders voiced their opinion Monday outside the capitol, saying the governor should stay in office. They believe his actions don’t rise to the level of resignation and he’s sorry for an incident in the 80’s when wore dark makeup as part of a costume.

“We have known him and choose to forgive.” said former Richmond city councilman Chuck Richardson. “We choose to use this as an opportunity to advance the cause of African Americans rather than wallow in the punitive measures of revenge.”

The National Black Farmers Association president said he spoke candidly with Northam last week about blackface and race relations.

“I looked into the governor’s eyes and I believe that he was sincerely sorry for what has happened,” John Boyd said.

In an interview with CBS News that aired Monday, Northam said he wants to use the rest of his term to make sure black Virginians have the same opportunities as white Virginians.

He said he’s still gaining a better understanding of the implications of white privilege.

“I think there’s still unconscious attitudes that, yes, we are aware of these things, but we don’t realize sometimes, especially as a white person, how impactful, how offensive they are,” he told CBS This Morning’s Gayle King.

He says that now he knows more about the history of racism, and he’s not making any excuses for his past actions.

“This is really an opportunity, I believe, to make awareness of this issue, to really have a frank dialogue and discussion about race and equity in this country,” Northam said.

Virginians are split on whether Northam should resign, according to a poll the Washington Post released over the weekend.


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