WASHINGTON — Virginia Democratic lawmakers Sunday began circulating a draft resolution to begin impeachment proceedings against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax over allegations of sexual assault that have been leveled against him by two women.

Fairfax, a Democrat, has fended off calls from the state Democratic Party and legislators to resign after the women publicly came forward last week to accuse him of sexual assault. Fairfax says the encounters – one in 2000 and the other in 2004 – were consensual, and he has characterized the allegations as a smear campaign against him.

He has said repeatedly that he will not step down and wants the FBI or others to investigate the allegations.

Shortly after the second woman came forward Friday, Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, said he would introduce articles of impeachment if Fairfax did not resign by Monday.

Hope emailed a draft resolution that would initiate impeachment proceedings to his Democratic colleagues for review Sunday. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the email and resolution.

“Whereas the House of Delegates believes all allegations of sexual assault must be taken with the utmost seriousness; and whereas the House of Delegates believes the allegations made by Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Ms. Meredith Watson (Fairfax’s accusers) to be credible in nature, while also respecting the principles of due process; now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Delegates that proceedings for the impeachment of Lieutenant Governor Justin E. Fairfax shall be initiated,” the draft resolution says.

A vote on the resolution, which could come as early as Tuesday if it is introduced Monday, would direct the House Committee for Courts of Justice to hold hearings on the allegations against Fairfax, with the support of legislative staff and state agencies. Such an investigation would be the precursor to the committee’s recommendation for impeachment and a vote of the full House.

In his email to colleagues, Hope stressed that he is not yet calling for Fairfax’s impeachment, but for an investigation into the allegations.

“It is not impeachment,” Hope emphasized in the email. “It is a process to investigate whether the Courts Committee would recommend impeachment.”

Hope said the timing of introducing the resolution is under discussion with legislative leaders.

It’s unclear how much support there is for an impeachment effort in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Aides to House Speaker Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, and House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax County, who have both urged Fairfax to resign, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Del. Robert Bell, R-Albemarle, who chairs the Courts Committee, also did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Committee member Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, said there are serious questions about the House’s ability to conduct an investigation into the allegations, including whether it could compel witnesses to testify and subpoena documents.

“There are process questions,” Simon said. “Whether this is the right move or not politically, we have to figure out whether we are doing this right or not.”

Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, who leads the Senate Democratic Caucus, said he opposes attempts to impeach the lieutenant governor and did not expect them to gain traction.

“Impeachment implies high crimes and misdemeanors while you are in office; that’s what it’s for,” Saslaw said in a brief interview, noting that the allegations against Fairfax are for actions that allegedly occurred before he was elected.

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