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Virginia's Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement Friday apologizing for his decision to appear in a racist photo published in his 1984 medical school yearbook, writing: "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now."

The big picture: A page from Northam's yearbook, obtained Friday by The Virginian-Pilot, shows people wearing blackface and Ku Klux Klan attire. In his statement, Northam did not offer to resign or identify which of the two people is him, but said he is ready to do the "important work" of healing the damage his conduct has caused. He later posted a video on Twitter again apologizing for his actions, and signaled that he would do everything he could to regain his constituents' trust "through the remainder of [his] term."

Statement:

“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive. 
“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.
“This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.
“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

Video:

Go deeper ... What they're saying: Officials condemn Northam's racist yearbook photo

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.