Virginia Democratic Lawmaker Moves to Consider Impeaching Justin Fairfax

A draft resolution directs a House committee to determine whether allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Fairfax “constitute conduct sufficient to provide grounds for impeachment.”

Comments: 55

  1. Mr. Fairfax admitted that the incidents took place. An impeachment hearing to determine if any of the conduct was non consensual seems appropriate.

  2. @John Pray tell me how an impeachment hearing will determine whether a sexual encounter was consensual or not!

  3. Painful week for Virginia, and I live here. Although the Fairfax allegations appear credible, the only responsible thing to do is to have a thorough investigation before any decisions are made. Al Franken did not have such an option, and it burns many people. As awful and insensitive Northam's actions were as a 25 year old, if he redeems himself in policies as Governor then the pain will have been worth it. If no one is given the chance for growth and a chance for forgiveness, good luck finding a pure candidate ever.

  4. @LFK Al Franken admitted to misadventures.

  5. @LFK Franken could have stayed and faced the Senate inquiry. he chose to resign

  6. I admire Senator Franklin, but in his case there were pictures of him behaving inappropriately. Nothing needed to be investigated, nothing needed to be explained.

  7. Innocent until proven guilty. Rule of law. Let’s stop ruining people without a fair trial.

  8. @Elizabeth Cook That’s what an impeachment process involves. It does not automatically remove the person from office. An investigation and a trial are held and then there is a vote within the legislature as to whether the person should be removed from office. Additionally, impeachment is not a criminal trial so even if removed from office, there is no criminal penalty without an additional criminal trial.

  9. @John Impeachment is a political event, not a legal one. Therefore it doesn't require even the illusion of a fair investigation -- though people attempting this tactic will swear on the Bible that they did that, and maybe even exceeded the standards of law enforcement agencies. The US Constitution explicitly removes the possibility of pardons for impeachment findings exactly for this reason.

  10. @Sequel The principle of innocence until proven guilty is a foundational element of Western/American society. It extends far beyond the criminal process. It is how we engage with each other, how we raise our children, how we work together. It is the social trust that keep communities from fracturing apart. We fool with this at our own peril.

  11. It is shameful for anyone in government to be raising the question of impeachment over uninvestigated accusations. Let a law enforcement agency determine whether any facts in this accusation can be proven to be real and to constitute reasonable evidence for an accusation.

  12. @Sequel Many people are still claiming Kavanaugh and Trump must be impeached before any investigations are done. Kavanaugh accuser had no credibility except for being a woman whose own witnesses denied every being at an event she can't remember where or when it happened and told no one about for over 30 years.

  13. @Sequel I would absolutely prefer that a criminal investigation take place. Are you saying though that no criminal charges equals no impeachment? The barrier to removing someone from office isn’t and shouldn’t be the same as for criminal prosecution. It should be higher than people insisting that someone should just resign though.

  14. The easiest way to destroy a political opponent appears to be to have someone accuse him/her of a salacious crime.

  15. @ndbza That’s the easiest way to destroy a Democratic opponent. If it’s a Republican opponent, they just get kicked off of a committee.

  16. I thought Fairfax had shown surprising restraint after the blackface scandal broke. I was a bit puzzled. I think I now understand his hesitation to take the limelight. Perhaps he knew he had skeletons in the closet too.

  17. Granted the dems eat there own and can’t dance but in this case just maybe they are hedging their bets. At any case it’s an exercise in Salem politics and quite comical to watch.

  18. @J Clark History books tell us that it was Democrats who passed the Jim Crow laws in the first place!

  19. This article refers to both Northam and Herring having admitted to wearing blackface when young. It is unfair to lump Herring with Northam. Herring admits that when he was 19 he darkened his skin to impersonate a black performer. Northam (initially) admitted to selecting for his medical yearbook page a photo of someone wearing a klu klux Klan outfit standing next to someone wearing blackface. These strike me as very different actions.

  20. He has been accused! In #metoo parlance, that means he is guilty and should resign or be impeached....unless of course he were a woman, in which case it means he is innocent and should not resign. Amy Kobluchar bullying springs to mind.

  21. @Langej Or he works for governor Murphy in NJ, although to this day no one in Murphy's office admits to hiring the accused. Not a single peep from #meetoo about the case.

  22. @Langej Do you mean Kirsten Gillibrand? Klobuchar was relatively restrained when it came to Franken.

  23. @Langej I have been watching the Netflix serial 'Sex Education' portraying the sexual behavior of teenage boys and girls in a fictional high school in Britain. If what is dramatized in the serial is anywhere close to reality, all the accusations of sexual misconduct between adults sound somewhat phony and emblematic of morning after regret!

  24. Where's Obama? Where are our leaders?

  25. I commend Northam and Fairfax for not resigning. In Northam's case the voters elected him based on his many years of public service. The callous actions of his youth have no bearing on his capacity to lead Virginia in 2019. In Fairfax's case, the allegations are serious but still untested. Everyone is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. This standard extends far beyond the criminal process. It is the hallmark of a decent and fair society and not one I am willing to jettison.

  26. It is premature to move on impeachment. Justin Fairfax has been accused of very serious crimes. But the reality is the crimes took place over a decade ago, He has not been convicted of any crime, and he has not had his day in court. There has not even been an investigation by a law enforcement agency. Due process matters. It matters a great deal.

  27. Justin Fairfax doesn't seems to understand, that even if he clings to this current position, he has no political future in the state of Virginia. He can never win another election in the state.

  28. While this woman has a credible story to tell, why did she wait all this time especially after she wrote an email about it? Everything has changed post 1980. Sexual assault in the work place or anyplace is no longer de facto legal. Countless women have come forth complained, sued and won. I know, I saw many in the large corporation I worked for. If anything the shoe was on the other foot. If a man was accused he was immediately deemed guilty unless a horde of women came to his defense or the predator was at the top of the food chain. With the exception of minors, doing what did woman did hurts both the victim and the accused, ie delaying justice or acquittal. Worse in many cases (not this one) it happens when the promotions/roles stop like in Me Too Hollywood, the predator is protected ie Weinstein when he contributes to Neo feminist causes or worse the woman starts the sexual activity.

  29. Patrick Hope is MY delegate here in Arlington. I havevoted for him every time he has run for office. This precipitous action in reaction to highly questionable allegations against our Lt. Governor is making me question my continued support for him. I believe this to be a Republican coup, and aiding and abetting it is not something I want my delegate to be a part of. Remember Chuck Robb. Remember Al Franken. Republican are really good at bringing allegations against Democrats that are difficult to dispute, even though they are false and self-serving.

  30. Has anyone thought to allow the FBI its investigation (unlike the sham investigation into Kavanaugh)? How do we know this wasn't another republican (nefarious) attempt to take over the State House and then undermine court cases against Trump in VA courts?

  31. I'm curious as to why Dianne Feinstein, Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy etc. (you can figure out the rest) who were so quick to believe Brett Kavanaugh's accusers are so silent now. Personally, I believe that Lt. Gov. Fairfax should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and is entitled to defend himself, you know, his rights under the Constitution. However, the total silence from the Democratic leadership is deafening.

  32. This article ignores an important aspect of this situation. Polling of Virginians indicates that we are split 47-47 re whether Northam should resign. African-Americans, according to the polling, are less likely to call for his resignation with 58% saying Northam should NOT resign. This should be part of the story. This poll was taken prior to the additional allegation against Lt Gov Fairfax, so I would discount any poll data on that front. However, I take the Northam data as evidence that this is not a simple case of throw the bums out because of incidents that happened 35 years ago. To me this indicates that Virginia citizens understand that this issue is not yea or nay, but layered with complexities regarding redemption, social and cultural development, and whether we are willing to allow imperfect people to become better and more informed leaders. I have only lived in VA for 5 years after being a native New Yorker, so I don't share the southern racial history as well as the experience of my age cohort as young adults in the southeast 35 years ago. But I think we should listen to those who do have that life experience. We can condemn the actions and decisions in people's past, but we should not judge and make decisions only on this narrow basis. All politicians have an agenda, but in this case I think National Democrats should also listen to the voters of Virginia. And this should also be part of the NYT's coverage.

  33. @Critical Reader People must think critically about the poll results reporting 58% of African-American Virginians believe Northam should not resign. 706 people in total were polled. The poll results did not indicate how many African-Americans were in the group of people polled or how their racial identity was confirmed. Even if we assume the only people polled were African-American, the sample size of 706 represents less than one percent of the African -American population in Virginia, currently approximately 1.6 million. It is dishonest to extrapolate those results to the total African-American population in the Commonwealth. Accordingly, I dismiss that poll as meaningless.

  34. While the allegation against Mr. Fairfax seems credible it would be an injustice not to wait for a full investigation, just as there should have been a full investigation into Kavanaugh, instead of the four-day sham.

  35. Who cares? What someone does privately should not get them fired unless it affects their work performance.

  36. Seems to me an investigation into the sexual assault claims before you start impeachment?

  37. I wish the Times would accompany the breathless political stories with a serious, in-depth piece about sexual assault. I now feel at sea regarding terms like "assault" and "rape," which I once thought I understood.

  38. If Virginia Democrats want to achieve any sense of credibility and fairness, they need to refer the racist photo posted by Governor Ralph Northam along with his admission of using black-face in a dance contest to their Ethics Advisory Council or some other appropriate body to rule on his fitness for office. Race is at the heart of the turmoil in Virginia as it has been since the post-Civil War era and the recent tragedy that claimed the life of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. To move forward with impeachment of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax only exacerbates the race issue and the appearance of a double-standard--one for whites, another for blacks. Both men stand credibly accused; both men need to be credibly held to account simultaneously.

  39. The Democrats are effectively saying they don’t care about and don’t need the black vote in Virginia and possibly nationwide. Good luck with that.

  40. There is a high likelihood that nobody was hurt by Northam adorning his face with shoe polish in order to impersonate the still dark Michael Jackson in 1984. This is because reasonable people know that dressing up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest in 1984 bares little resemblance to wearing blackface in a minstrel show in 1884. At worst he was being ironic and edgy, though more likely he was clueless. In either case, there is no indication that when he dressed up as Jackson he was doing so maliciously. So, those who call for his immediate resignation are saying that a non malicious act that likely hurt nobody disqualifies one from effectively governing. What's the logic in that?

  41. Lt. Gov, Fairfax has every right to ask: what did just happened to my life? It all started with a legislation legalizing infanticide and ended in being embattled in impeachment proceedings. In a week his life unraveled. Politics in VA are resembling Hollywood movie plots where the black man is the first one to be eliminated. Perhaps he deserves it, perhaps not. Let's wait and find out the results of investigation. This overreaction to accusations is nothing short of mob mentality.

  42. A man is accused of rape, the accuser will not press charges though the statute of limitations has not been passed, the accused has asked for an investigation, so one of his own party is seeking impeachment? And I thought lynching was a horror of the past - now I understand why Democrats keep losing.

  43. What did that arch conservative Clarence Thomas call it, "a modern day lynching?" America is a nation of laws, no man is above the law and no man should be denied the protection of the laws. If we get rid of that principle we may as well surrender to Russia.

  44. If you impeach him before an investigation, you will really have a problem. If you impeach him after a lame investigation, you'll have to go after Kavanaugh. Folks, look at the timing here: well after an election and after a scandal that made this man a possible governor. I'm sure he had relationships with these women. He admits that. I'm sure the women were unhappy about some of the activities.He probably was too. Every woman on earth and most of the men have had romances that went sour and hurt them. They did things they wish they hadn't. They didn't do things they wish they had. But do we have to pay for every sexual mistake we ever made? Not every man or woman is a sexual monster. Do you really believe this serious young man is a predator? I think if you really examine this, you'll find that someone with an agenda is heating this up. If so, all the players are being played. It stinks of exploitation!

  45. In short: a man accused of rape should not resign because he is black.If you don’t find this statement as repulsive as I do, you have no moral authority to condemn any Republican for anything. Of course, Fairfax is legally innocent until proven guilty but we are not talking about putting him in jail. The issue is his fitness for public office. Franken, Moore and a whole host of others either lost their elections or were hounded out of office for behavior that was unproven or not criminal. Here we are talking about a credible accusation of rape. This has nothing to do with the color of Fairfax’s skin, with blackface or 400 years of slavery. This has to do with honesty, morality and consistency in politics. What right to Democrats have to my vote is they don’t represent my rights as a woman?

  46. @Mor A man, black or white or purple, accused of rape should not resign just because he was accused. More information is needed before anyone can say he is unfit for public office. Also, there is no such thing as a "credible" accusation, all accusations are the same until they have been investigated by the police.

  47. Perhaps the usual impartial investigator could be found. Say Senator Gillibrand. Or one of the genius investigators at UVA who are so good at fair investigations and due process.

  48. Delegate Hope believes someone is guilty until proven innocent - it's not how justice is served in America. He should go to Russia.

  49. If you were adamant that Kavanaugh should have been denied the SC how can you possibly support Fairfax staying in office?

  50. @Luciano SC is a lifetime appointment, unaccountable to the voters. Fairfax can stand again and let the voters decide.

  51. Sorry, Gayle King, you let Mr. Northam off the hook when you said indentured servitude was, “also known as slavery.” Indentured servitude, while immoral in and of itself, is NOT equivalent to slavery. Slaves could not “work off their debt.” Slaves were slaves for life. They lived and suffered at the whim of their masters. They were legally less than human. You know this, Ms. King. Stop pitching softballs while trying to appear “tough and probing.” If you misspoke, and your intent was to clarify Mr. Northam’s statement about indentured servants, then please, learn to speak English precisely. You’re a journalist, for goodness sakes!

  52. This is astonishing Fairfax has been accused of RAPE by two very credible women Yet he's still in office and Democrats are wavering on how hard they should push for removal? Even in the "pre Me-Too" era this man would be toast. There is only one explanation. He's a black man and Democrats do not want to alienate an important constituency. Maybe for the first time ever a black man in the South is accused of rape and people go easy on him BECAUSE he is black.

  53. @Luciano Maybe we need to apply this same standard (the one you cite) to our potus?

  54. He's thinkin' about fixin' to get ready to impeach Fairfax.

  55. If he comes under impeachment hearings, so should our potus....for the same (and worse) allegations.