May 22, 2019

Investigators give up on Ralph Northam blackface probe

Governor Ralph Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Investigators could not determine whether the man posing in blackface on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page was actually him, according to a 36-page report released Wednesday.

Why it matters: Northam, who still denies that he is the man in blackface next to a man dressed in Ku Klux Klan garb, was called on to resign by nearly every major Virginia and national Democratic official in the country earlier this year. Yet despite the massive pressure, Northam consistently said he plans on seeing his term through to the end.

The big picture: "With respect to the photograph on Governor Northam's personal page, we could not conclusively determine the identity of either individual depicted in the photograph," investigators wrote in the report. "The governor himself has made inconsistent public statements in this regard.”

  • The four-month long investigation by lawyers hired by EVMS interviewed several students and members of the yearbook staff at the time.
  • Investigators said they were not able to determine if the photograph was placed by mistake or without Northam's knowledge.
  • The lack of answers was blamed on how long ago the yearbook was made and the investigators' inability to contact some people who may have had more information.

When asked if he would take steps to provide Virginians with more answers, Northam told reporters that he suspects "this has been a thorough investigation. I've actually participated in the investigation, been present for the questioning the day they asked me of."

  • "I was elected to govern. I've got a great team. We're obviously refocusing on the inequities that exist across the commonwealth. I look forward to the next three years of our administration. We're going to keep Virginia the best state in the best country in the world."
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