Rep. Nanette Barragan (D., Calif.) blamed President Donald Trump for the recent scandals plaguing Virginia's top three lawmakers, all of whom are Democrats, during an appearance Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Anchor Jake Tapper, in an exchange flagged by Mediaite, pointed out that Democrats would not want all top three officials—Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark Herring—to resign, thereby ceding power to the Republican speaker of the House of Delegates.
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Barragan shifted the focus to Trump.
"No, but we need to think about doing what's right and what's right for Virginians and what's right overall. The race issue in today's day and age with the president at the helm who has been one of the most divisive presidents and, frankly, racist himself, is a conversation we do need to have, but looking at just the line of order and saying ‘no we're not going to do that because of the consequence,' is not the right way to do this," Barragan said.
"I do think we need to have this conversation, and we should continue to have this conversation, but it has to be front and center. And we can't forget about the person who is dividing us and who himself is injecting this into the country to live up again and coming out again. We haven't seen it be this bad in recent time until the president has really made this a race issue, whether it's about African Americans … [or] immigrants, but we need to have this conversation," Barragan continued.
Nina Turner, a former Democratic state senator in Ohio and campaign surrogate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), rebuked Barragan for her comments.
"Jake, I cannot. I just can't. 1984, 1980, Gucci just a few days ago. This is not about President Donald Trump. This is about racism in the United States of America. Congresswoman, I hear you, but on this, we're not blaming President Trump," Turner said.
Turner added she would not "continue to let politicians use this man as the excuse to deal with racism in this country."
"Yes, President Donald Trump is a racist. There is no doubt about it. But as we've seen, Democrats delve in racism as well. We've got to stop making this about who is a Republican, who is a Democrat. I want to know who's a humanitarian," Turner continued.
"What Lieutenant Governor Fairfax is going through don't have nothing to do with President Trump. Northam wearing blackface don't have nothing to do with Donald Trump. Herring wearing blackface has nothing to do with Donald Trump. This is about racism in the DNA of this country, and I am over it. We're traumatized, Jake, and we're sick of it. Politicians need to stop playing games," Turner said.
Northam, Virginia's Democratic governor, faces pressure to resign after a photograph of someone in blackface and someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood was found on a page dedicated to him in his medical school yearbook. Northam apologized for the picture after it was released, saying he was "sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo." He denied being one of the individuals in the photo, however, during a press conference the day after it was released, saying he instead darkened his skin once while dressing up as Michael Jackson. Democrats from each wing of the party have called on Northam to resign.
Fairfax, the state's lieutenant governor, faces two accusations of sexual assault, and Attorney General Mark Herring (D.) admitted to wearing blackface while a student in the 1980s, causing further controversy in the state.