The Slatest

Kavanaugh Repeatedly Claimed That Ford’s Friend Said the Assault “Didn’t Happen.’’ That’s Not True.

Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh looks frustrated while sitting before the committee.
Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

As Brett Kavanaugh disputed Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations of sexual assault on Thursday, he repeatedly cited evidence that he claims is exculpatory, provided by Christine Blasey Ford’s own high school friend, Leland Keyser.

Keyser is one of several people who Ford said attended the social gathering in which Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her. Kavanaugh repeatedly referenced Keyser’s statement during his testimony. It was one of his strongest points of defense—and he returned to that assertion accordingly, bringing it up several times throughout the hours of questioning. Here are a few of those instances:

All four witnesses who were alleged to be at the event said it didn’t happen. Including Dr. Ford’s long-time friend, Ms. Keyser, who said that she didn’t know me and that she does not recall ever being at a party with me, with or without Dr. Ford.

And you know, yeah, and it’s been investigated and all four witnesses say it didn’t happen.

All four people allegedly at the event, including Dr. Ford’s longtime friend, Miss Keyser, have said they recalled no such event. Her longtime friend Miss Keyser said under penalty of felony that she does not know me and does not believe she ever saw me at a party ever.

Listen to Miss Keyser. She does not know me. I was not at the party described by Dr. Ford.

Miss Keyser said under penalty of felony, she does not know me. Does not recall ever being at a party with me ever. … Dr. Ford’s allegation…is refuted by the very people she says were there including by a longtime friend of hers, refuted.

In reality, though, Kavanaugh’s characterization is misleading. It positions Keyser as a witness in his favor, while in reality she said that she believes Ford.

“Simply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh, and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford,” Keyser’s lawyer told the Washington Post.

In instances where Kavanaugh said she “did not recall” the party, he was accurately representing her statements. But in other instances, where he said she “refuted” the story, he was not. And, as the Post also reported, Keyser said in a brief interview that she believed Ford’s account.

When Ford was questioned about Keyser’s statement that she didn’t remember the party, Ford responded that she was not surprised, as her friend, unlike her, was not assaulted at the party. “It was a very unremarkable party,” she said. “It was not one of their more notorious parties because nothing happened to them.”

One Democratic senator did finally challenge Kavanaugh on his interpretation of Keyser’s statement. Near the end of Kavanaugh’s questioning, the nominee again brought up the evidence from a “long-term friend.” Cory Booker interrupted him.

“Ms. Keyser said she doesn’t remember the night in question,” he said. “But she also said she believes Dr. Ford.”