Democratic senators and 2020 presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday called for an investigation into the sexual-assault accusation against Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax.
College professor Vanessa Tyson has alleged that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Fairfax has forcefully denied the allegation.
"I think there should be an investigation to determine what happened," Harris told reporters on Capitol Hill. "Certainly her letter reads - it's quite detailed, and suggests that there's credibility there. But there needs to be an investigation to determine what exactly happened."
When asked whether Fairfax should resign, Harris stopped short of saying he should. "The most important thing that needs to happen is that the people of Virginia need to make that decision," she said. "That's where I am on it."
Gillibrand reportedly spoke about the issue during a Wednesday podcast taping, saying Tyson had "enormous courage" to come forward and that her allegation was "deeply disturbing and credible."
Tyson said she felt compelled to bring up the incident after the scandal engulfing Virginia governor Ralph Northam raised the likelihood that Fairfax would become governor.
"I wish her no harm or humiliation, nor do I seek to denigrate her or diminish her voice," Fairfax said Wednesday. "But I cannot agree with a description of events that I know is not true."