Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is backing up his denial of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claims of sexual assault by using a friend of Blasey’s who was allegedly present at the 1982 gathering where the incident occurred. The problem with Kavanaugh’s insistence that this letter is exculpatory is that it is not true.
Leyland Keyser sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 22 stating that she did not remember any gathering that matched the one Blasey described as the place where Kavanaugh and Mark Judge allegedly shoved her into a room and sexually assaulted her. “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,” the letter from Keyser’s lawyer to the committee reads.
But Keyser also personally told the Washington Post that, while she cannot remember the gathering taking place or having met Kavanaugh, she believes Blasey’s testimony. This did not stop Kavanaugh and Republicans from twisting Keyser’s statements that she can’t remember into an exonerating statement that implies the events never happened at all.
“Ms. Keyser said under penalty of felony she does not know me, does not recall ever being at a party with me ever and my two male friends who were allegedly there, who knew me well, have told this committee under penalty of felony that they do not recall any such party and that I never did or would do anything like this,” Kavanaugh said in his angry opening statement. “Dr. Ford’s allegation is not merely uncorroborated, it is refuted by the very people she says were there, including by a longtime friend of hers. Refuted.”
He stated two other times in his opening statement that Keyser’s statement to the committee “refuted” Blasey’s allegations.
“Listen to Ms. Keyser,” Kavanaugh said. “She does not know me. I was not at the party described by Dr. Ford.”
In at least three other instances, Kavanaugh asserted that all witnesses alleged to have been at the gathering where the assault reportedly took place, “said it didn’t happen.”
Republican senators, in defense of Kavanaugh and his honor, rallied around this line.
Keyser’s statement “explicitly dispute[d]” the allegations of sexual assault brought by Blasey, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Friday ahead of the committee’s vote on Kavanaugh nomination.
“All three of the individuals whom Dr. Ford has named as supposed eyewitnesses have made statements to the Senate under penalty of felony,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in his statement explaining his vote for Kavanaugh. “None of them corroborate her account. To the contrary, they refute it.”
Democrats rebutted this argument. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) pointed out that Keyser did not refute Blasey’s testimony, but she merely said that she did not recall the events as having taken place and that she believed her friend.
“Not recalling is not the same as refuting,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said on Friday.
Blasey herself said she did not fault Keyser for not remembering the gathering or the alleged assault that Blasey did not tell anyone about until 2012 because who would remember hanging out with some friends 36 years ago when you were not assaulted.
“Leland would not remember this unremarkable party,” Blasey said. “It was not one of their more notorious parties because nothing remarkable happened to them that evening.”