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Virginia Democrats hold fire on impeachment of lieutenant governor

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Virginia Democrats hold fire on impeachment of lieutenant governor

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) – Virginia Democrats pressured Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to resign on Monday over accusations of sexual assault, which he denies, but held off on pursuing impeachment, with the Republican speaker of the state House urging restraint.

Fairfax is one of three top state Democrats engulfed by scandal this month. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring have also faced criticism after admitting they wore blackface in the 1980s.

Patrick Hope, a Democratic member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, said he believed Fairfax should have resigned already after two women accused him of sexual assault but added he would not move immediately on his weekend call for impeachment proceedings.

Adding to the pressure, much of the lieutenant governor’s staff have resigned since the second accuser came forward on Friday, according to his spokeswoman, Lauren Burke. They included his policy director and his scheduling director, as well as the executive director and a fundraiser at his political action committee, the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper reported.

The accusations of racist behavior or sexual assault against the three men have rattled party leadership in a swing state that likely will play a pivotal role in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Democrats have been gaining power in the Southern state in the last few election years.

Party leaders in Virginia and across the nation have called for Northam and Fairfax to resign. They have been more forgiving toward Herring, largely because he came forward on his own to admit having performed in blackface at a 1980 college party, rather than waiting for someone to accuse him.

Northam and Herring are white; Fairfax is black.

Hope, the white Democratic lawmaker who had called for Fairfax’s impeachment, renewed his call for the lieutenant governor to resign while saying he was discussing whether impeachment was the best solution.

“Fairfax should have already resigned,” Hope said in a statement. “The message being sent to victims of sexual assault is chilling.” He said he believed Fairfax’s two accusers.

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is framed by the doors of the state’s senate as he presides over it in Richmond, Virginia, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

The scandals may cost the Democrats their chance to take over control of the legislature in November’s elections, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. He said the scandals have eroded voters’ faith in the party to put forward good candidates, and any perceived racial disparities in consequences may cause further harm.

“You’ve got three of them in trouble, and then potentially the African-American goes and the two whites stay,” he said in a telephone interview. “There could be complete justification for that, but it looks terrible.”

‘VOLATILE SITUATION’

House Speaker Kirk Cox, the Republican who would become governor if all three Democrats resigned, said it was too soon to say whether he would support impeachment.

“We need to be very careful with the high standards of impeachment,” he told reporters. A majority of House members would have to vote to impeach for the proceedings to move to the Senate. A two-thirds majority in the upper chamber would be needed to remove someone from office.

Northam has insisted he would not resign over a 1984 medical school yearbook picture, which showed a person in blackface next to another wearing the robes and hood of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan. Northam denied being in that picture but admitted to dressing in blackface for a social event that same year.

Blackface traces its history to 19th-century minstrel shows that mocked African-Americans, and is seen as offensive by many Americans – though its use continued in U.S. popular culture through to the early 21st century.

About 39 percent of white Americans say it is at least sometimes acceptable to don blackface for a Halloween costume, while 37 percent believed it was never acceptable, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted mostly before Northam’s admission and released on Monday. Only 18 percent of black Americans agreed it was at least sometimes acceptable, while 53 percent said it was never acceptable. (pewrsr.ch/2tgHl88)

Fairfax has said sexual encounters with both women were consensual.

Slideshow (7 Images)

Members of the legislature’s black caucus are also seeking an investigation that does not immediately involve impeachment.

“We don’t know how to do that yet,” Delegate Lamont Bagby, the caucus chairman, said in an interview.

Reporting by Gary Robertson, additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Scott Malone, Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis

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Top Congressional Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly

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Top Congressional Democrats call for Mueller to testify publicly

Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrives at his office in Washington, U.S., April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Thursday called on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify publicly about his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer criticized Attorney General William Barr for writing what they called a “slanted” summary letter and for planning a press conference before the expected release of the report detailing the probe’s findings on Thursday.

“We believe the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible,” Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement.

(This story has been refiled to correct the sequence of events of press conference and report.)

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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Left will continue to ‘believe in Russia collusion’ even after Mueller report release, Byron York says

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Left will continue to 'believe in Russia collusion' even after Mueller report release, Byron York says

The Russia collusion narrative is unlikely to go away even after the Robert Mueller report is released later today, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York predicts.

“A lot of Democrats have invested the last two years of their life in believing that there was collusion between Russia to fix the 2016 election. Don’t think they gonna give it up just because of this,” York told “Fox and Friends”.

“A lot of Democrats have invested the last two years of their life in believing that there was collusion between Russia to fix the 2016 election. Don’t think they gonna give it up just because of this.”

— Byron York

The prediction comes as Washington, D.C. is bracing for the release of the Mueller report that according to Attorney General William Barr didn’t establish collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

IN MUELLER REPORT’S RELEASE, TRUMP LOOKS FOR VINDICATION, BUT NEW FIGHTS LOOM

York pointed out that after Barr outlined the report’s conclusions in a letter and quoted Mueller stating that the evidence didn’t establish a conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, many Democrats began doubling-down on the collusion charges.

“Immediately people on the left said maybe he couldn’t prove a criminal conspiracy but maybe there was some other sort of conspiracy. Or maybe he couldn’t prove to beyond a reasonable doubt but maybe there is evidence that the rest of us can believe,” York said.

“I really think we have already seen and they already tipped their hands that they are going to continue to believe in collusion.”

“I really think we have already seen and they already tipped their hands that they are going to continue to believe in collusion.”

— Byron York

On the obstruction of justice charges, York says those opposing President Trump will have even more to talk about after the report release as Mueller himself didn’t reach a conclusion about obstruction charges.

“If the Barr summary is pretty accurate, Mueller did not reach a conclusion about obstruction. That’s a question right there. He is a prosecutor. He has all the evidence. Why didn’t he reach some sort of conclusion?” he said.

FOX NEWS POLL: TRUMP POPULARITY HOLDING STEADY AFTER MUELLER SUMMARY RELEASE

“There will be a lot of ammunition, we know that already for Trump’s critics who say that firing James Comey or the Lester Holt interview or something else was proof of obstruction right there in front of our eyes. So I don’t think that argument is going to go away at all.”

Lastly, even if the Mueller report doesn’t find wrongdoing by Trump, it’s unlikely to end the talk of impeachment by Democrats even as the 2020 election nears.

“If you believed in impeachment before the Mueller report, why would you stop believing in it now?,” York said, pointing that there’s a conflict within the Democratic Party on how to proceed with this.

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“You have a lot of the leadership like Nancy Pelosi wanting to move on, these are the more senior people wanting to move on, wanting to focus on the legislative agenda,” he continued.

“But you are going to have the investigative committees, the judiciary committee, the intelligence committee investigating this stuff all the way until the next election.”

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Fox Nation takes you behind the scenes of Bernie Sander’s Fox News town hall

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Bernie Sanders' plans will cost $20G per taxpayer, blow hole in budget, nonpartisan group's president says

2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,  told voters and Fox News viewers why they should vote him into the White House in a special town hall event Monday night.

Sanders spent an hour answering questions from potential voters and Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, before thanking the audience and viewers.

WATCH: FOX NATION’S BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT BERNIE SANDERS’ TOWN HALL

The senator defended his wealth, outlined his health care plan, and critiqued President Trump in what was the most watched town hall event so-far this election season.

But that wasn’t the whole story…

HOW BERNIE WENT FROM SOCIALIST GADFLY TO FRONTRUNNER

Fox Nation took a behind the scenes look at Monday’s Town Hall as Fox News crews worked tirelessly setting up the event and reaching out to the local community about the important issues that Sanders needed to address.

The crew even dealt with a weather situation that threatened the event.

“Due to the weather conditions in the area they’re worried about a power cut from the local utility,” Roger Germinder, Coordinator Operations and Engineering for Fox News revealed in the Fox Nation special.

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To see how the Town Hall was put together, how the anchors prepared and more go to FoxNation.com.

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