Democrats consider Fairfax impeachment
by Harvest Prude
Posted 2/11/19, 11:58 am
Democratic state Delegate Patrick Hope on Monday backed off a plan to introduce articles of impeachment against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has faced calls to resign after two women accused him of sexually assaulting them in the 2000s. Hope said Friday he would begin the process of impeachment if Fairfax had not resigned by Monday. Then on Monday, Hope tweeted that he had circulated a draft impeachment bill and realized that “additional conversations … need to take place before anything is filed.”
Professor Vanessa Tyson came forward first and accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform a sex act in 2004. A second woman, Meredith Watson, on Friday accused Fairfax of raping her while they were students at Duke University in 2000. She said that he planned the attack, that she told friends after it happened, and that she has statements from friends and email messages to corroborate her story. Fairfax has denied both accusations, calling the encounters consensual, and has so far resisted calls to resign. He asked authorities, including the FBI, to investigate what he is calling a “smear campaign.”
To impeach Fairfax, the House needs a simple majority vote, and the Senate needs a two-thirds majority vote to convict him. State Sen. Richard Saslaw, leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus, told The Washington Post that “impeachment implies high crimes and misdemeanors while you are in office,” and he does not think an effort to impeach would succeed.
All three top Virginia Democrats have struggled with controversies in recent weeks. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring faced criticism for wearing blackface in the past. Northam said Friday he intended to remain in office.
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Harvest is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and a reporter for WORLD.