During a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) downplayed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as “uncorroborated.”
“Let us not forget Dr. Ford’s allegation is not the only uncorroborated allegation that has been breathlessly, breathlessly paraded around — oh no!” McConnell said, during a speech in which he lambasted Democrats and vowed that the Senate will still “have the opportunity to vote yes on this very fine nominee.”
But McConnell’s claim is false. There is actually a good bit of corroboration for Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh assaulted her. As ThinkProgress detailed last week, four people sent sworn affidavits to the Senate Judiciary Committee corroborating Ford’s story. The affidavits claim Ford, who also goes by Dr. Blasey professionally, told them about the assault as early as 2012, and in each case, well before Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump.
Ford claims there was one eyewitness to the assault: Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge. While McConnell now pays lip service to caring about “corroboration,” Republicans refused to subpoena Judge to testify about the incident during last week’s public hearing — their rationale being that they didn’t want to bother a recovering alcoholic and cancer survivor by compelling him to talk. In his public statements, Judge has stopped short of saying unequivocally that the incident didn’t happen.
McConnell made it clear that he wasn’t taking Ford’s allegation seriously on September 21 — six days before Ford and Kavanaugh testified — when he vowed during a speech at the Value Voters Summit that Republicans would “plow right through” the allegations and confirm Kavanaugh to the court.
Kavanaugh has also misrepresented the credibility of Ford’s allegation against him. Over the weekend, a woman who Ford says was at the 1982 party where she was allegedly assaulted by Kavanaugh sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee calling out Kavanaugh for misleading senators when he repeatedly said Ford’s accusation was “refuted” during his testimony last week.
The woman — Leland Keyser, a high school friend of Ford’s — sent a letter to the committee via her lawyer that says, “Notably, Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford’s account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford’s account.”
Ford says Keyser was at the party with her, but was not in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her. Because Keyser didn’t witness the assault, wasn’t told about it at the time by Ford, and can’t remember being at specific party in question, she’s unable to corroborate Ford’s accusation. But she has said she believes Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh assaulted her.
During his testimony on Thursday, however, Kavanaugh dishonestly seized upon the fact that Keyser can’t corroborate Ford to claim Ford’s accusation is “refuted.”
“Ms. Keyser said under penalty of felony she does not know me, does not recall ever being at a party with me ever,” Kavanaugh said in his 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.”
Being unable to corroborate an accusation is not the same as refuting it, however.
A second woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault — Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party while the two of them were students at Yale — also has corroboration for her story. As the New Yorker detailed in its report about Ramirez’s allegation, news of Kavanaugh’s alleged assault of Ramirez spread around Yale, and more than three decades after it happened, the publication talked to classmates who heard about it at the time and recalled the incident in a manner similar to Ramirez.