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Senior Democrats press Virginia governor to resign over racist photo

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Senior Democrats on Sunday accused embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam of being dishonest and urged him to resign after he backtracked from an earlier admission that he appeared in racist garb in a yearbook photo.

Northam, a Democrat trying to resist mounting pressure from his party to step down, on Saturday walked back his admission that he was one of two people shown in the photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook, one person in blackface standing next to another in a Ku Klux Klan costume.

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Northam, who took office a year ago, had admitted on Friday he was in the photo from the 1980s.

Even as he denied it on Saturday, he admitted to dressing up in blackface to imitate the late pop star Michael Jackson in a dance contest around the same time.

“He is being completely dishonest and disingenuous,” Democratic U.S. Representative Karen Bass said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I think given the overall climate around race in this country, especially over the last two years, it’s completely unacceptable,” said Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.

She also took issue with Northam’s claim that wearing blackface was commonplace in 1984.

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“He’s basically saying that he participated in it and especially when he described the time that he did the Michael Jackson impression,” said Bass. “He even acted at the press conference like he was willing to moon walk until his wife stopped him, which shows that he still does not understand the seriousness of his actions.”

Bass’ sentiment was echoed by Donald McEachin, a black House member from Virginia, who said he had spoken to Northam on Friday and that the governor was apologetic.

“So I was really surprised when the next day he comes out and says it’s not him,” McEachin, a Democrat, also said on “Meet the Press.” “That was quite a surprise to me.”

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Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who has called for Northam to resign, said he believed he would do so.

“It doesn’t matter whether he was in that photo or not in the photo at this point. We have to close that chapter,” McAuliffe said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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“And if Ralph is watching this today, I know how much he loves this Commonwealth of Virginia. And you have got to make the right decision. You have got to make the right moral decision.”

Democratic party strategists worry that the controversy could hurt the party’s chances in the 2020 presidential election. Virginia is a competitive state that leans Democratic.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat weighing a 2020 presidential run, has also urged Northam to step down.

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Other prominent Democrats – including 2020 presidential candidates Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Julian Castro, a former top U.S. housing official – have been calling on Northam to resign since Friday.

Northam, a 59-year-old pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1984.

Blackface dates back to minstrel shows of the 19th and early 20th centuries that featured white performers portraying African Americans, often in a degrading manner, and it is considered to be racist and offensive.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Daniel Wallis

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We still don’t know how many people are in the hospital with COVID-19

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Late last month, Vice President Mike Pence sent a letter to administrators of the nation’s 6,000 hospitals requesting a favor.

He asked them to complete a form each day with data on the patients they are treating with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and submit it to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The data will help us better understand disease patterns and develop policies for prevention and control of health problems related to COVID-19,” Pence wrote.

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Mike Pence’s office blocks top health officials from CNN as punishment

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Vice President Mike Pence has kept the nation's top health officials from appearing on CNN since the network stopped carrying the daily coronavirus briefings in their entirety.

The vice president's office, which is responsible for booking those officials to deliver pandemic information, told CNN that Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci would not be permitted to appear on the network until it carries the briefings, including Pence's remarks, in full.

"When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air," a Pence spokesperson told CNN.

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‘Well-spoken cultist’: Bill Barr trashed for praising ‘statesmanlike’ Trump and urging an end to COVID-19 lockdowns

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During an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham Wednesday night, Attorney General Bill Barr praised President Trump's "statesman-like" effort at the "beginning" of the coronavirus epidemic where he "tried to bring people together" while "working with all the governors" -- a characterization that did not go over well with many of the President's critics on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/matthewamiller/status/1248241999297339394

https://twitter.com/andeparks/status/1248255118291742722

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