President Trump condemned Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Saturday amid the controversy surrounding a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page, as well as comments he’s made about a late-term abortion bill.
“Democrat Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia just stated, ‘I believe that I am not either of the people in that photo.’” Trump tweeted. “This was 24 hours after apologizing for appearing in the picture and after making the most horrible statement on ‘super’ late term abortion. Unforgivable!”
Earlier Saturday, Northam said during a news conference that he was not in the 1984 yearbook photo that depicted a man dressed in blackface and another in a KKK outfit. His remarks conflicted with those he’d made a day earlier, when he apologized for appearing in the picture.
However, he did concede Saturday that he had “darkened” his face for another event that same year, when he claims to have dressed as singer Michael Jackson for a talent contest.
The president also appeared to make reference to Northam’s comments earlier this week about a controversial abortion bill that one sponsor said could allow women to terminate a pregnancy up until the moment before birth.
When questioned about those comments, Northam, a former pediatric neurologist, said that third-trimester abortions are performed with “the consent of obviously the mother, with consent of the physician, multiple physicians by the way, and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities or there may be a fetus that’s not viable.”
“So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
Some conservative commentators and lawmakers interpreted the remarks by Northam to mean he was discussing the possibility of allowing a newborn to die — or even killing it outright.
Northam’s office pushed back, saying his comments were limited to actions physicians might take in the case of “tragic or difficult circumstances” such as a non-viable pregnancy or “severe fetal abnormalities.”
Trump, in a followup tweet on Saturday, mentioned Ed Gillespie, who unsuccessfully ran against Northam in the midterm elections. The president suggested that had Gillespie’s team discovered “that terrible picture before the election,” the Republican would’ve bested Northam by a wide margin.
“Ed Gillespie, who ran for Governor of the Great State of Virginia against Ralph Northam, must now be thinking Malpractice and Dereliction of Duty with regard to his Opposition Research Staff,” Trump tweeted. “If they find that terrible picture before the election, he wins by 20 points!”
After the yearbook photo surfaced on Friday, calls for Northam to resign poured in from lawmakers and officials.
Among them were Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Rep. Bobby Scott – Democratic Virginia lawmakers – who on Saturday released a joint statement calling on the beleaguered governor to “step down and allow the Commonwealth to begin healing.”
“After we watched his press conference today, we called Governor Northam to tell him that we no longer believe he can effectively serve as Governor of Virginia and that he must resign,” the statement said. “Governor Northam has served the people of the Commonwealth faithfully for many years, but the events of the past 24 hours have inflicted immense pain and irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Alex Pappas, Mike Emanuel and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.