Christine Blasey Ford’s friend is not refuting Ford’s allegation, but does not remember alleged incident, lawyer says
WASHINGTON — Leland Ingham Keyser, a friend of the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were at a party in high school, does not refute the veracity of the allegation, although she does not remember the alleged incident, her lawyer said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, claims that during a party in the early 1980s at which Keyser and several others were present, Kavanaugh drunkenly pushed her into a bedroom, pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothes before she was able to escape. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation.
“Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford’s account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford’s account,” Keyser’s attorney, Howard Walsh, wrote in the letter, which was sent to the committee overnight Friday. “However, the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”
Walsh also said in the letter that Keyser will “cooperate fully” with an FBI investigation into the allegation.
The letter comes after emotional testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh about the allegation at a committee hearing Thursday. Keyser felt the need for the letter, Walsh wrote, to clarify a previous statement about the allegation, which came up at the hearing and which she believed made it sound as if she did not believe the party had occurred.
The previous statement, which Walsh released to CNN and the committee last week, said, “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.”
In her testimony Ford said she remembered that Keyser, a longtime friend, was present at the party, but that it is not surprising Keyser would not recall the party because Ford did not tell her about the alleged assault at the time.
“Oh no, she didn’t know about the event,” Ford told the committee, “She was downstairs during the event and I did not share it with her.”
Kavanaugh mentioned Keyser’s statement several times during his testimony to stress that no one who Ford alleges attended the party has come forward to say they remembered being there.
In addition, two others have issued statements saying they don’t remember the party in question.
“I have no memory of this alleged incident,” said Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend, who Ford alleged was in the bedroom during the assault. In a letter he sent to the Judiciary Committee last week, Judge also said he did not recall the party and never saw Kavanaugh act in the matter Ford describes.
Another person Ford claims was at the party, Patrick J. Smyth, has issued a statement in a letter from his lawyer to the committee saying he had no knowledge of the party or the allegation.
“I understand that I have been identified by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as the person she remembers as ‘PJ’ who supposedly was present at the party she described in her statements to the Washington Post,” Smyth said in the statement. “I am issuing this statement today to make it clear to all involved that I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”
“Personally speaking, I have known Brett Kavanaugh since high school and I know him to be a person of great integrity, a great friend, and I have never witnessed any improper conduct by Brett Kavanaugh towards women,” the statement continued. “To safeguard my own privacy and anonymity, I respectfully request that the Committee accept this statement in response to any inquiry the Committee may have.”
On Friday, the White House agreed to ask the FBI to investigate “current credible allegations” as a part of Kavanaugh’s background check. Lawyers for Judge and Smyth said they would cooperate.
Besides Ford’s allegation, the FBI is looking at the accusation of another woman, Deborah Ramirez, who has alleged Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at dormitory party while the two were undergraduate students at Yale. The FBI has reached out to Ramirez, her attorney said, confirming a report in The Washington Post.
“We can confirm the FBI has reached out to interview Ms. Ramirez and she has agreed to cooperate with their investigation,” the attorney, John Clune, said in a statement. “Out of respect for the integrity of the process, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Kavanaugh and the White House have denied Ramirez’s allegation, which was reported by The New Yorker.
“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen, Kavanaugh said in a statement last Sunday when The New Yorker published the article. “The people who knew me then know this did not happen and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple.”
CNN has not independently confirmed Ramirez’s allegations.
Ramirez’s lawyers wrote a letter to the leaders of the Judiciary Committee this week saying Ramirez, who lives in Colorado, was willing to cooperate with them regarding her allegation as well as a separate letter to the FBI’s field office in Denver requesting that her allegation be included in the agency’s background investigation for Kavanaugh’s nomination.