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Despite His Own Blackface Scandal, Virginia AG Says Governor Has Lost Public Trust

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says that he is focused on what he can do to repair the damage from revelations that he wore blackface.
Tyrone Turner, WAMU

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says that he is focused on what he can do to repair the damage from revelations that he wore blackface.

This story will be updated.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says he sees no contradiction in calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to resign even though both men have admitted to wearing blackface.

Speaking on WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show Monday, Herring said he felt Northam had lost the public's trust.

"When the governor's medical school yearbook photo came out, I issued a statement that expressed that action," Herring said. "I condemned that action as I have done my own. But I stopped short of calling for his resignation."

"The next day he came out with a different and contradictory account," Herring continued. "And that led to an erosion of the public trust, including the trust of those whose support he would need in order to govern effectively. And so for me it was about that public trust and the support of those he would need. And that's when I knew he couldn't lead going forward. That's the standard that I would hold myself to."

In his remarks, Herring implied that he had not lost the public's trust or the backing of his supporters. He also would not say whether he thought Northam should resign now.

"The governor's made up his mind," Herring said. "He's decided he's going to continue on. What I was trying to do was trying to be as honest as I could."

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In February, the attorney general was beset by scandal after admitting that he wore blackface to a party in 1980 as a 19-year-old college student, just days after calling for Northam's resignation for wearing blackface.

In a Feb. 2 statement, Herring said it was "no longer possible" for Northam to lead Virginia, and placed his "complete support and commitment" with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Just a week later, Fairfax was facing the first of two sexual assault allegations, both of which he denies.

Herring was also asked about his bid to become governor. In December, Herring announced he would run for governor of Virginia in 2021.

"That is the last thing I am thinking about," Herring said. "Honestly, I am not thinking about that at all. What I am focused on is what happened in Virginia over the last month and what I might be able to do to repair the damage. That is where I'm going to be focused."

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