Ralph Northam's staff standing by him for now, source says

Va. governor's staff standing by him for now

The political chaos in Virginia is growing more intense with Gov. Ralph Northam showing no signs that he'll step down. The Democrat, elected in 2017, is under fire over a racist photo printed under his name in a 1984 yearbook.

The governor met with his cabinet on Monday. Their strategy has been to take the situation day by day. A source familiar with the meeting said it was emotional, but not one member asked for Northam's resignation. 

The lieutenant governor who would replace Northam now faces a claim of sexual assault from more than a decade ago. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said the allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 is not true. Fairfax said the accusation is resurfacing now that he's on the verge of becoming governor.

"I think it's obvious what it is. It's obvious it's a smear, it's obvious that we're on the eve of pretty historic time, and there are people, for whatever reason, may want to come out," Fairfax said.

The story -- published by the same conservative website that released the racist photo from Northam's yearbook page -- deepened the political crisis in the state capital. Protesters outside Northam's home demanded he step down, while the governor remained holed up in private meetings.

Calls for Northam's resignation are still coming from fellow Democrats, including Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, and national Republicans.

"He just lost the confidence of enough people that I think the right thing for him to do is step down," Kaine said.

Asked what he and his colleagues would do if Northam refused to step down, Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox said, "Obviously on impeachment that's a very high standard. And so I think that's why we have called for resignation. We hope that's what the governor does."

Fairfax has not called for the governor to step down, but the two men have not spoken in more than two days.

A spokeswoman for Northam said it's "absolutely untrue" that someone from Northam's team leaked the assault allegations against Fairfax.

Eastern Virginia Medical School, the school Northam attended which the yearbook is from, is holding a news conference this afternoon to discuss inappropriate photos in student yearbooks.