You can add President Donald Trump to the list of politicians who don’t buy Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s claim that he wasn’t the one in a racist yearbook photo. Northam had initially admitted he was one of the men in his medical school yearbook photo, which shows one man in blackface and another wearing a full Ku Klux Klan robe. But on Saturday, Northam claimed none of the men in the photo are him as he defiantly pushed back against growing calls for his resignation. Trump characterized the photo as “unforgivable” and used the opportunity to get in a jab at the Virginia governor for recent comments about a Virginia abortion bill that caused an uproar in Republican circles.
“Democrat Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia just stated, ‘I believe that I am not either of the people in that photo.’ This was 24 hours after apologizing for appearing in the picture and after making the most horrible statement on ‘super’ late term abortion,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Unforgivable!”
Trump’s statement refers to the way Northam defended a failed bill that would have cut back on restrictions on late-term abortions in such a way that led Republicans to suggest he was in favor of killing babies.
The president also used the furor over the photo to make clear he still has a bit of a grudge against Northam’s 2017 GOP challenger, Ed Gillespie, who pointedly declined to ally himself with Trump during his campaign. “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. If they find that terrible picture before the election, he wins by 20 points!” Trump tweeted.
After Northam won the gubernatorial election, Trump took to Twitter to suggest Gillespie had lost because of his effort to keep the president at arm’s length. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” Trump wrote in November.
Support our journalism
Help us continue covering the news and issues important to you—and get ad-free podcasts and bonus segments, members-only content, and other great benefits.Join Slate Plus