Thus far, with multiple accusers of sexual assault coming forward, Virginia Luitenent Governor Justin Fairfax is insisting that he isn’t going anywhere. Instead, he would like the FBI to look into these allegations, which he categorically denies. But will he really have a choice in the matter? While it still might seem unlikely, a growing number of Democrats in that state are talking about taking the decision out of his hands and impeaching him, with one threatening over the weekend to introduce articles of impeachment as soon as today. (Washington Times)
A Democratic state lawmaker plans to introduce articles of impeachment Monday against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is accused of sexually assaulting two women during his 20s, stoking the political bonfire consuming Virginia’s Democratic leadership.
Despite mounting resignation calls from fellow Democrats, Mr. Fairfax appeared determined to fight for his political future in potentially brutal hearings in a General Assembly where Republicans are in the majority.
“The one thing I want to make abundantly clear is that in both situations I knew at the time, and I know today, that the interactions were consensual,” Mr. Fairfax said in a statement.
At least for now, it appears that the impeachment threat has been pulled back off the table. CNN is reporting that Patrick Hope was backing down this morning and won’t be filing the proposal after all… at least not yet.
But that doesn’t mean that it won’t come up again in short order, particularly if any more women come forward. Let’s game out how this might work of that happens. It pretty much had to be a Democrat filing the articles because otherwise the Virginia GOP would be accused of a witch hunt or some sort of partisan power play. But the Republicans control the legislature, so it’s far easier for them to sit back and let the Democrats do their dirty work for them. Assuming this moves forward and they being hearings, however, they can grill Fairfax and make life very unpleasant for him just as the state gears up for elections.
Much like the situation with Brett Kavanaugh, both Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson (the two known accusers) have already stated that they would come to testify during the hearings. That puts a human face on the allegations. At that point, the GOP could pretty much impeach him without any Democratic help, but they would likely get quite a few Dem votes.
Then they’d have to convict him in the Senate. Again, the GOP controls that chamber, but not with the two-thirds majority needed to seal the deal. But enough Democrats seem to be in the mood to act that it probably wouldn’t be a problem. The question is, does the Virginia GOP really want to impeach Fairfax? It’s arguably better for them to have a wounded Democratic Luitenent Governor with a cloud of allegations hanging over his head in office than a fresh face with a presumably clean record.
If they take out Fairfax and he’s replaced with another Democrat and Northam then resigns, the Democrats get a clean bill of health at the top of the party hierarchy and most of the current crisis blows over. (Well… once they figure out what to do with the AG, anyway.) Could the GOP actually block the impeachment effort just to let their opponents stew in their own juices for a while longer? Sure… they could. But would they?
That would be a seriously obvious political ploy and they’d catch a lot of heat for it. As tempting as it may sound to play these fish on the line for a while longer, if the Democrats really want to give Fairfax the boot I’m willing to bet the Virginia GOP will let them. And that will probably offer the Democrats a way out of this quicksand bog at last.