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Top Virginia Democrats demand Lt. Gov. Fairfax resign or face impeachment

Most of Virginia’s congressional delegation on Friday called on Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign his post, and a state delegate announced he will begin the impeachment process.

Delegate Patrick Hope, a Democrat who represents Arlington, said unless Mr. Fairfax resigns, he’ll introduce articles of impeachment on Monday, when the General Assembly reconvenes.

And the entire Democratic Caucuses in the state House and Senate issued a statement calling on Mr. Fairfax to go, saying he “can no longer fulfill his duties to the commonwealth.”

“He needs to address this as a private citizen. The time has come for him to step down,” the Democratic state legislators said.

The moves came after new allegations of rape surfaced against the lieutenant governor.

Five of the state’s seven members of Congress said in a joint statement that they found the lieutenant governor’s two accusers to be credible, and said Mr. Fairfax’s handling of the situation, lashing out at accusers and suggesting political motives behind the allegations, disqualified him.

The lawmakers, three women and two men, said they believed the first woman who came forward, Vanessa Tyson. And after a second allegation of rape dating back to decades emerged Friday afternoon, the members of Congress said it was clear to them the lieutenant governor could not remain in his job.

“He repeatedly attacked his accuser, he reportedly used vile and degrading language to describe her, he mischaracterized an investigation into the encounter, and he sought to blame others for events in his own past. These actions do not meet the standard to which we hold Virginia’s highest elected officers,” the lawmakers said. “For these reasons we believe that Justin Fairfax cannot continue to serve as lieutenant governor of Virginia, and should step aside.”

The signatories were Reps. Gerald Connolly, Don Beyer, Abigail Spanberger, Elaina Luria and Jennifer Wexton.

Two of the state’s Democratic congressmen, Rep. Bobby Scott and Don McEachin, did not sign on to the joint statement.They are both black, as is Mr. Fairfax. The five who did sign are all white.

Mr. Fairfax, 39, said earlier in the day he would not resign and said he had been set up by false allegations.

“It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me. I will not resign,” he said in a statement.

The new accuser Friday, Meredith Watson, claimed Mr. Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were both students at Duke University.

She said the details of her attack were similar to those of Ms. Tyson, who said Mr. Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him during an encounter at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.

Mr. Fairfax has acknowledged having sex with Ms. Tyson, but says it was consensual.

Ms. Watson came forward now, according to her lawyer, because she “was upset to learn that Mr. Fairfax raped at least one other woman after he attacked her.”

While Ms. Tyson lacked corroboration for her story, the statement from Ms. Watson’s lawyer said that she had documentation.

Mr. Fairfax came under scrutiny after it seemed he might ascend to the governorship in the wake of Gov. Ralph Northam’s admission that he donned blackface in 1984 — and the discovery of a photo of someone in blackface and another person in a KKK costume on his medical school yearbook page.

Days later, Attorney General Mark Herring — who had called on Mr. Northam to resign over the blackface episode — admitted he, too, had worn blackface in college.

All three are Democrats.

The lieutenant governor’s chief role is to preside over the state Senate, which meets for a month or two each year, and to break tie votes in the chamber.

He also ascends to the governorship if that post is open.

If the lieutenant governor’s post becomes vacant, the governor picks a successor, who serves until the next general election.

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