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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring reveals that he also wore blackface during college, threatening a constitutional crisis

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring reveals that he also wore blackface during college, threatening a constitutional crisis

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring

Andrew Harnik/AP

  • Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said on Wednesday that he dressed in blackface during college, deepening the multi-layered scandal enveloping the state’s leadership this week.
  • This comes as Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, faces intense pressure to resign after it was revealed his medical school yearbook page featured a photo of men dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and blackface.
  • Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is vigorously defending himself against an allegation of sexual assault.
  • Virginia now faces a constitutional crisis as its three top executive branch officials all face mounting pressure to resign.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said on Wednesday that he dressed in blackface during college, deepening the multi-layered scandal enveloping the state’s leadership this week.

“In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” Herring said in a statement released Wednesday morning. “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes — and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others — we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.”

Herring, a Democrat, added that “the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades” and argued that his past conduct is “in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since.”

Herring called on Northam to resign on Saturday after the racist photo emerged, but it’s unclear whether he’ll hold himself to the same standard. He did not indicate whether he’ll resign in his statement and instead said that “honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general.”

This comes as Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, is facing intense pressure to resign after it was revealed that his 1984 medical school yearbook page featured a photo of men dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and blackface.

Read more: The Virginia Democratic Party says it’s going to ‘evaluate’ the sexual-assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who could become the state’s next governor

Compounding the scandal, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is vigorously defending himself against an allegation of sexual assault. Fairfax claims the sexual encounter at the 2004 Democratic National Convention was consensual while his accuser, political science professor Vanessa Tyson, says he forced her to perform oral sex on him.

NBC News reported on Wednesday that during a private Monday night meeting Fairfax said of Tyson, “F–k that b—-h.”

Fairfax is second in line and Herring is third in line for the governorship if Northam steps down. The state is now facing a constitutional crisis as Virginia’s three top executive branch officials face pressure to resign.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, also a Democrat, said on Wednesday morning that he was “shocked and disappointed” by the news about Herring, adding, “This has been an awful week for Virginia.”

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