Transcript: Rep. Jennifer Wexton on "Face the Nation," February 10, 2019

Virginia rep calls on Northam to resign

The following is a transcript of the interview with Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton of Virginia that aired Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Democratic Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, who represents Northern Virginia in congress. Congresswoman, I- I know you know Governor Northam.

REPRESENTATIVE JENNIFER WEXTON: I do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He campaigned for you. The contrition you heard there, is that enough for you to say he does not need to resign?

REP. WEXTON: It does not change my opinion that he needs to resign.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?

REP. WEXTON: Because I don't believe he can effectively lead co- the commonwealth at this time. I mean, I understand that he wants- that he's feeling contrition, that he's feeling regret. But we need somebody who- who can not only address the wrongs of the past, but take Virginia into the future. And I think he's lost the confidence of the people in order to be able to do that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And yet the Washington Post had a poll out that published overnight and it said Virginians are split. But an interesting portion of that said the majority of black residents say he should remain in office. Is that black public opinion persuasive to you at all?

REP. WEXTON: Well I mean that's- everybody's entitled to their opinion and that's- that's persuasive. But remember he- he won a vast majority of the black vote in his election. And we're not talking about approval numbers. We're talking about people who feel that the governor should step down immediately. So it's a very different situation. The fact is, he's really lost the confidence of a lot of the people he's supposed to be leading.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what about the Attorney General Herring who also admitted to having appeared in blackface in the past? Should he resign?

REP. WEXTON: Well his situation is different and I judge each situation on its merits. The attorney general came forward proactively, is very regretful and contrite. He reached out to all the African-American leaders and other leaders, very heartfelt anguish about what he had done. But he's got a lot of work to do to regain the trust of the people of Virginia.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you're withholding judgment?

REP. WEXTON: I'm withholding judgement.

"CBS THIS MORNING" HOST GAYLE KING: Margaret, can I ask a question? Am I still mic'd, no?

MARGARET BRENNAN: I-I don't know that you are. Sorry, what is your question, Gayle?

GAYLE KING: Well, when you said that he's lost the confidence, he realizes that. But he also wants a chance to regain the confidence. Do you think he deserves that? He knows that he's lost everyone's confidence.

REP. WEXTON: But he still needs to be able to govern--

GAYLE KING: Okay.

REP. WEXTON:  And that's the problem. If he's spending his entire rest of his term apologizing and trying to preserve his own reputation and his legacy he's not going to be an effective--

GAYLE KING: Okay--

REP. WEXTON: Governor for the people of the Commonwealth. I don't- I don't think the Governor is that selfish at the end of the day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I- I want to make sure we also talk about the lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax because I know you have strong feelings about him as well. He has made clear he's not going to resign. Do you expect there to be an attempt to impeach him?

REP. WEXTON: Well one of the members of the House of Delegates has said that he intends to file articles of impeachment next week. That's a decision that my-my former colleagues in the General Assembly are going to have to make about-about how that plays out. But I expect that the Lieutenant Governor will do the right thing for Virginia and resign.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Two of your Democratic colleagues, Senator Warner and Congressman Scott have-have sort of hedged their criticisms saying if true. Is there a possibility that Justin Fairfax is unfairly accused here?

REP. WEXTON: He is the subject of two extremely credible corroborated accusations of serious sexual assault. That's the situation we're looking at right now, it seems highly unlikely that these women would come forward and subject themselves to this kind of abuse if these allegations were not factual.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because I think a lot of people ask, where is the benchmark for you believing the accuser versus believing the lieutenant governor? And they apply that to various different cases whether it was Justice Kavanaugh or their own personal experience. For you, what is the benchmark?

REP. WEXTON: I don't know that I can say that there is a particular benchmark, I judge every case and every- every complainant in every situation on its merits. You know, I was also a prosecutor and this is not an issue where we need to prove something to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Elected leaders need to be held to a higher standard and where there are credible allegations- corroborated allegations- of serious sexual assault. We're talking about rape and forcible sodomy. This is something that impacts his ability to lead in future.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Democratic Party has really tried to stake out a moral high ground on issues of race, on issues of gender and sexual assault. Do you think these stories, three Democrats here, do you think that this has damaged the party?

REP. WEXTON: I think that our reaction to the- to these stories shows how seriously we take these allegations and- and- and conduct of our elected officials. You know the good news is Democratic elected leadership- Democratic leadership doesn't begin and end with the three men serving in elected office in Virginia right now in statewide office. We have a vast numbers of really talented, diverse, hardworking, capable leaders who are able to step up and fill the void that- that will be left.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman thank you for joining us. Gayle King thank you--

GAYLE KING: Thank you Margaret, thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --for being here with us.