A photo on Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced Friday showing one man dressed in blackface and another in a KKK robe. A spokesman for Northam - the governor's been under fire this week for comments made about a third-trimester abortion bill in his state - did not immediately return multiple messages seeking comment from Fox News. It's not clear who is in the photo, though Northam appears in other photos on the same page.
Fox News Radio's Guy Benson & Marie Harf spoke right after the news broke to Chris Wallace, host of Fox News Sunday. The Fox News Sunday also weighed in on the new Jobs report, The next possible Shutdown & whether President Trump should declare a National Emergency.
Guy Benson: [00:00:01] It is Friday and it's February on Benson and Harf. Welcome to the show. I'm Guy Benson here with Marie Harf we are both in our home studio the Tony Snow radio studio at Fox News Washington. Delighted to have you along. And we are also delighted to welcome back to the program our opening guests on the show tonight. You know him well Chris Wallace is the host of Fox News Sunday. You can follow on Twitter at Fox News Sunday. Check your local listings or watch on Fox News Channel. The replay at 2:00p.m. and 7:00p.m. Chris good to have you Happy Friday.
Chris Wallace: [00:00:36] Happy Friday. Well for me it's Wednesday because I work the next two days but that's it's always good to be with you too.
Chris Wallace: [00:00:43] Chris I want to open with some relatively breaking news it is not a happy Friday for the governor of Virginia Ralph Northam who is already under some significant fire over some late term abortion comments earlier in the week. And now a number of news outlets reporting and confirming an image that he put in his 1984 medical school yearbook page of himself and a friend. Apparently one is in blackface the other is in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. This was reportedly taken this photo after a minstrel show that they had participated in. This is in the mid 80s. NORTHAM was in his mid 20s at the time. It has gone everywhere. And when you take the big controversy from a few days ago and now add the blackface issue and scandal. I'm wondering is this something that is survivable in 2019 for a statewide politician.
Chris Wallace: [00:01:44] Yeah the only thing that I don't know and maybe you know something more than I do is I don't think at least according to Fox News reporting I've heard that it has been officially confirmed that he's one of those two people. Having said that it is certainly true that it is on his page in the medical school yearbook from 1984. So one assumes that didn't just drop out of the skies that he agreed to put it there. Obviously the picture is horrible as you say one person is an obvious black face the other person is wearing the full Ku Klux Klan regalia including the hood so you can see who's under the hood. You know I have a couple of reactions. One is it's obviously it's horrible. Is it survivable. I can't imagine he'd be kicked out of office for it. Although I don't know. I guess I guess the dog days anything could happen as you say it was a long time ago not excusable then. The other thing is kind of curious about it is that north of in two very competitive races last year when he won the or the year before when he won the governorship won first a tough primary on the Democratic side and then a very tough general election against Ed Gillespie a pretty top Republican operative former chairman of the Republican Party and it's kind of amazing to me that nobody ever discovered this before. But they didn't. And it's come out now and clearly it would seem somebody decided with this information. Northam has been a terrible week and let's add this to it. You know whether he's going to survive it or not I don't know. You could certainly see it going either way.
Marie Harf: [00:03:34] And Chris guy and I were talking before the show race was an issue during that campaign against Ed Gillespie. Obviously everything that happened in Charlottesville but also you know now Governor Northem made some pretty serious allegations about the campaign that Gillespie was running. So it's just so shocking that he didn't think he called Ed Gillespie a racist and tied him to Charlottesville and you know we had this on his 25 year old yearbook page. Yes.
Chris Wallace: [00:04:05] Well you know I don't know frankly enough about north. I think part of it is going to depend on luck. Is he terribly wounded politically. Absolutely. Whether it's enough for him to feel he has to quit or I don't know what the procedure for removing a governor is in Virginia. I suspect one of the keys is going to be what his record and which I don't know his record on civil rights maybe you do Morais and what is standing is in the African-American community in Virginia. You know he's got some money in the bank. He's going to have it all out. You know in terms of his credibility is a pretty tough situation.
Marie Harf: [00:04:51] And Chris a lot of it will depend I think on the next 24 hours. Right how he handles this. We don't have a statement yet from him or her office.
Guy Benson: [00:04:59] Just last week the Republican secretary of state in Florida resigned over an old black face vote.
Marie Harf: [00:05:05] From from much more recently. But yes not ever ok no matter what the time Chris this Sunday you have two two guests Republican and a Democrat who are both members of this joint committee on homeland security that has been working to try and get a compromise here before the government shuts down again one week into these negotiations. How do you look at where we are. The president saying basically nothing's going to get done. This committee trying to work behind closed doors. What's your assessment of where we are now.
Chris Wallace: [00:05:36] Well things can change but it couldn't be worse in terms of where we are now. We have John Hobin former governor now a senator from North Dakota a Republican who says we absolutely have to have a border barrier. And Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar are as I say a Democrat from Texas who says we absolutely can't have any money for a border barrier. You've got you know and they're sort of surrogates in a way for the two principles Donald Trump who says if they're not going to give me money for the wall they're wasting their time and kind of hinted today that either in the state of the Union or right after he might declare a national emergency. And Nancy Pelosi is saying you know we're not going to give them any money in the border wall in the legislation. So there is that far from there being any movement towards a compromise in this first week of three you know two weeks from today the government shuts down again. There's everybody is more locked in than ever and the rhetoric has escalated from a pretty high spot.
Guy Benson: [00:06:45] Chris how would Pelosi and the Democrats get away with not offering any barrier money after so many of them went on television during the shutdown and said we're for barrier's we're just not going to negotiate it. Now while the Government's still closed. So I said OK government's back open. All these people are on the record from Steny Hoyer all the way on down for barriers and not a dollar for barriers. It does seem like a pretty cynical bait and switch if that's what they're going to do although that's still not clear.
Chris Wallace: [00:07:14] I mean Nancy Pelosi kept saying I mean yes she said no negotiations until the government is open but then she's she's been pretty firm about no money for the for the for the barrier. One possible wiggle room it seems to me for a mys is the definition of a barrier. Because I mean it's silly but yes this is where we get into silly situations in Washington sometimes. You know I think the big concrete wall the president is talking as talked about that would be off the table that would be non-negotiable for Democrats. I could see them giving money. And in fact she even talked about some kind of enhanced fencing. And then there was some talk about a Normandy fencing. I didn't even know what that was. But it was gotten the kind of things that were put on the beach to block the allied forces when they invaded and the day that my researchers got me some pictures of Normandy France. So the answer is you know what's a barrier a wall seems to be an unacceptable barrier for Democrats Normandy fencing which you know we're all going to become fence experts seems to be maybe possibly acceptable.
Marie Harf: [00:08:30] Chris there also is a school of thought and I want to run this by you that the Democrats know the Republicans in Congress do not want another government shut down. They have been very clear about that. And that the Republicans though don't want to not give President Trump some wall or barrier. And so that everyone behind the scenes might think that the easiest thing politically for everyone would be for the president to declare a national emergency. So the government doesn't shutdown again. The Republicans can say to their base we're fighting for the wall while realizing it probably won't stand up in court and then everybody kind of goes back to their corners. But the Government's up and running is that a crazy theory that some people are putting out there.
Chris Wallace: [00:09:16] No no I think it's a very sensible theory and I think that's a real real possibility that you know whether the president does it before the February 15th deadline or after that he declares a national emergency the government stays open. It either is approved. You know the courts don't block it or they do block it. And I think there's a pretty good chance that the West Coast they somebody will you know some judge will put an injunction against it and then as you say the president and Republicans can say well we did everything we could to fight for the wall. The only flaw in the in this statement in the theory that scenario the scenario I will know is that there are a lot of Republicans as well as Democrats who really hate the idea of declaring a national emergency and you know feel that it violates Article 2 of the Constitution and also worry about the precedent that would be set that someday there will be a Democratic president a liberal president and he's going to sit there and say well he or she I'm going to declare a national emergency on something that I haven't been able to get through Congress for two years and suddenly try to appropriate money because eventually you know a court might decide well the president can't do this and then you've got to live with the consequences of it.
Marie Harf: [00:10:37] Right. That theory is banking on the idea that Republicans in Congress think the courts will say it's not legal. They can go out there and actually sort of say the same thing. But the president will be able to say to his base I fought for this and it's those liberal judges that won't give it to me.
Chris Wallace: [00:10:53] But even if it again the danger is what happens if they don't stop it at some point.
Guy Benson: [00:10:59] Or if they do it might actually set a decent precedent. It kind of depends on what the ultimate outcome is in court. I just I just really hate the idea in principle that you would basically have probably a lot of Democrats and some Republicans talking about a constitutional crisis. If Trump does this while a bunch of other people behind the scenes are saying well it's the best political outcome everyone sort of gets what they want except for the actual well-being bill and it waters down the idea of a constitutional crisis. I hate the idea but I think it's the likeliest outcome do you think it's the likeliest outcome. Chris?
Chris Wallace: [00:11:37] You know I'm after I'm not I'm making no predictions. I've been after the idea of a 35 day shutdown. I never could have conceived of that in which all the pressure would be on each side to dig in and not to compromise and to keep the shutdown going. You know like a lot of things during the Trump era I've been in this town for 40 years and I'm seeing things I've never seen before with you. I think it's such a very dangerous precedent. You know I I've got no problem with emergency powers. If it's an emergency. But the idea. I mean think of any issue that is there for years and how long have they been arguing about a wall and there predates Trump by many many years. The idea of a barrier. And now Congress refusing to give money and on just so the fact that you know the legislative thing where Congress has refused to give it under Article Two powers and then a president unilaterally says on a continuing controversy on a legislative issue that's certainly not an emergency. I mean nobody could say that this is more of a crisis now. In fact the number of apprehensions is a small fraction of what it was 10 or 15 years ago that declared a national emergency and start siphoning off money that have been appropriated for one purpose for another. That strikes me as you know when I kind of I kind of laugh at conservatives who are so strict constructionist about the Constitution saying well no this is OK.
Guy Benson: [00:13:10] I'm not among them. Chris last question briefly monster and surprise jobs report this jobs report this morning. I wonder if we might hear about that next Tuesday.
Chris Wallace: [00:13:20] Oh yeah you heard about it today the president called reporters into the cabinet room and talked about it. You know the the projections from the so-called experts was about 170000 300000 340000 jobs were created. And you know with the government shut down with the weather you have usually in January there are smaller job increases. You've got to say for all of the controversies and issues with Donald Trump a continuing strong economy is one of the things that he can still bank on.
Guy Benson: [00:13:54] Chris Wallace is the anchor of Fox News Sunday. You can watch this Sunday morning check your local listings for your local Fox station the replay on Fox News Channel 2:00p.m. and 7:00p.m. Eastern. Chris we always appreciate your time. Have a great show.
Chris Wallace: [00:14:06] Thank you. Thanks. Good to talk to you guys again.
Marie Harf: [00:14:10] Thank you.
Guy Benson: [00:14:10] Always. All right we're going to step aside and come back when we come back. New reaction to the Ralph Northam scandal with the blackface photo he has put out a statement. We will read you that statement when we come back.