If you had “Democrats conduct impeachment” in your 2019 pool, prepare to collect your winnings — but not in the way anyone would have guessed a month ago. Rather than Congress impeaching Donald Trump, Democrats in Virginia will begin impeachment proceedings on Monday against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax after multiple allegations of sexual assault emerged over the last week. The odds of impeachment succeeding went up considerably last night when Fairfax lost the support of the Legislative Black Caucus:
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) called on Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) to resign Friday after a second woman came forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
The group of state legislators had initially refrained from calling for the lieutenant governor to step aside this week, but issued the statement Friday night amid mounting calls for him to resign after a woman accused him of rape.
“In light of the most recent sexual assault allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus believes it is best for Lt. Governor Fairfax to step down from his position,” the caucus said in a statement.
Here’s the statement in full:
Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Statement on Most Recent Sexual Allegations Against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax pic.twitter.com/Bbj8sn4gF5
— VLBC (@VaBlackCaucus) February 9, 2019
That wasn’t the end of Fairfax’s bad night either. Democrat Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both of whom had initially resisted the impulse to demand a resignation from Ralph Northam, publicly called for Fairfax to step down. “If these allegations concerning Lieutenant Governor Fairfax are accurate,” Warner said in a statement, “then they are clearly disqualifying and he must resign. … Those of us in elected office who have been endowed with the public’s trust must always put the Commonwealth first.” Kaine put it less poetically and more directly:
“Lieutenant Governor Fairfax should resign. The allegations against him detail atrocious crimes, and he can no longer effectively serve the Commonwealth. We cannot ever ignore or tolerate sexual assault.”
Still, Warner and Kaine would have no input into impeachment. The Legislative Black Caucus comprises only a portion of the legislature’s Democratic seats. That’s not enough to guarantee that Fairfax would be impeached — right? Well, as it turns out, Fairfax has also lost, er … all Democrats in both chambers:
— VA House Democrats (@VAHouseDems) February 9, 2019
And if that wasn’t enough, Fairfax’s entire party told him this morning to vamoose:
NEW: The Democratic Party of Virginia calls for the resignation of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax amid allegations of sexual assault: "The Lieutenant Governor no longer has our confidence or support. He must resign." https://t.co/kD545rQKpE pic.twitter.com/leaL6TjAfY
— ABC News (@ABC) February 9, 2019
Fairfax insists that he won’t resign and that “a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me.” He also demanded an investigation to clear his name:
I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever.
I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations. Such an investigation will confirm my account because I am telling the truth.
As the old axiom warns: Be careful what you ask for. If Fairfax has not resigned by Monday, Democratic Delegate Patrick Hope will introduce articles of impeachment. Hope backed up that threat with an argument that suggests that Fairfax may have ended up in a political trap of his own making:
The alleged crimes committed by LG Fairfax took place in Massachusetts and North Carolina. The impeachment process is the only way for Virginia to have the investigation that LG Fairfax has demanded.
— Patrick Hope (@HopeforVirginia) February 9, 2019
Hope’s got a point. The statutes of limitation would make an investigation in both states impossible. If Fairfax wants an investigation, it would have to be conducted by the Virginia legislature, which can put witnesses and complainants under oath (and Fairfax too, of course). That doesn’t necessarily mean articles of impeachment, but it would likely be the same process no matter what it’s called. The House of Delegates could call a select committee to probe the allegations, which is exactly what they’d have to do to produce articles of impeachment for a vote anyway.
As Allahpundit noted last night, the result of such a probe and a trial in the Senate on these allegations would be “an agonizing, embarrassing spectacle for the state.” That’s precisely why Virginia Democrats all jumped on the bandwagon for a resignation last night. They want Fairfax to know that he’s got no political cover left, and that the votes for impeachment are already locked in — unless Republicans decide to pull his chestnuts out of the fire. And they’re not going to do anything of the sort, although they may remind Virginia Democrats that due process and the presumption of innocence still applies.
The best way to bet is that Fairfax takes the hint and hits the road this weekend. However, that’s not a sure bet. Ralph Northam refuses to resign and thinks the only way out of his scandal is to stick around for later redemption. Fairfax might think the same thing.
Update: The shunning has now gone national:
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) was removed from his post as chairman of the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association (DLGA) on Friday after two women came forward this week to accuse him of sexual assault.
Lt. Govs. Bethany Hall-Long (Del.) and Cyrus Habib (Wash.) will take his place as interim co-chairs of the DLGA, the group announced Saturday.
“Lt. Governors Hall-Long and Habib have been leaders of this organization and are fully committed to making a meaningful difference in the future and direction of our country,” DLGA Executive Director Roshan Patel said in a statement.
This one’s got to sting, as Fairfax founded the group:
Fairfax spearheaded the group’s launch last year, becoming its first chairman. The DLGA provides resources and policy assistance to Democrats in their campaigns for lieutenant governor.
He’s just about fully under the bus now.