Virginia's embattled governor insisted he will not resign over a racist yearbook photo, but he said the state's lieutenant governor would have to step aside if sexual assault allegations against him are found to be true.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is reaffirming his decision to not resign after two women came forward with accusations of sexual assault. Both of Fairfax's accusers, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, announced over the weekend that they would be willing to testify at an impeachment hearing if called upon.
Northam is now shrouded in criticism after photos from his medical school yearbook from 1984 emerged last week, showing someone wearing blackface posed alongside a person dressed as a KKK member.
Northam told CBS it must have taken tremendous courage for the women to come forward, and that he supported Fairfax's call for an investigation.
On CBS's Sunday morning Face the Nation, Mr Northam said: "I really think that I'm in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level".
A California professor earlier accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in 2004. Northam initially apologized for the photo then he flipped the script saying it was not him in the picture.
Meanwhile the Republican party in Virginia has also been hit by its own blackface scandal after it emerged that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment edited a 1968 college publication containing slurs and blackface photos.
Attorney Nancy Erika Smith released the statement Saturday night on behalf of Meredith Watson after Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax denied the allegation and called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities to investigate.
Governor Ralph Northam has dug himself so far into a hole I'm not sure who can rescue him.
The jeopardy confronting Mr. Fairfax, who was a 39-year-old rising star in the party, is part of a political crisis overtaking Virginia's Democratic leadership.
Northam has pledged to remain in office despite public pressure.
The political chaos surrounding the state's top two elected officials has extended to the second in line to succeed Northam, Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, who admitted that he had once darkened his face to imitate a black performer.
Beyer said if you believe the women, there is "no choice" but to call for Fairfax's resignation.
Watson alleges Fairfax raped her while they were students at Duke University in 2000, her attorney said in a statement.
"It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me", Fairfax said. "There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity", he said. He made clear he is not immediately resigning and called for "space in this moment for due process". Northam may try to appoint a Democrat, while Republicans could mount a legal challenge with the goal of having Sen.
Del. Patrick Hope promised Friday to initiate impeachment articles if Fairfax didn't resign by Monday.