Kavanaugh accuser’s friend dismisses original allegations, detail also not mentioned in NYT excerpt of book

Leland Keyser, a friend of Christine Blasey Ford who allegedly was at the party where Ford says Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her decades ago, now says the story "just didn't make any sense."

That revelation is contained in a forthcoming book, by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, titled "The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation." But the Times omitted any reference to Keyser's comments in a widely panned article this weekend by Pogrebin and Kelly that was adapted from the book.


The Times' article instead included an uncorroborated allegation from a Clinton-linked lawyer claiming Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted a female student, without mentioning that the student did not recall the events in question. The Times later published a major update to include those details, along with an editors' note, but not before virtually all major Democratic presidential candidates had called for Kavanaugh's impeachment.

Specifically, Keyser challenged Ford's narrative that sometime in the summer of 1982, Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge assaulted her at a party also attended by Keyser and P.J. Smith.

"I don’t have any confidence in the story,” Keyser told the reporters of Ford's claims, according to outlets that have reviewed advance copies of the forthcoming book.

"Those facts together I don't recollect, and it just didn't make any sense," Keyser added.

"Those facts together I don't recollect, and it just didn't make any sense."

— Leland Keyser

Ford has been unable to identify exactly where or when the alleged assault occurred, or how she got home after the incident.

Keyser reportedly remarked: "It would be impossible for me to be the only girl at a get-together with three guys, have her leave, and then not figure out how she's getting home." Keyser told Pogrebin and Kelly, "I just really didn't have confidence in the story."

Christine Blasey Ford accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago when they were both teenagers. (AP, File)

Last year, Keyser, speaking through her attorney, said she could not corroborate Ford's claims. Keyser told the FBI she felt pressured by partisan activists and Ford's friends to change her account and later revised her statement to indicate that she believed Ford despite her lack of memory of the episode.

Keyser's initial statement was that "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 revised statement from Keyser's attorney read: "Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford's account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford's account. However, the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”


The Times' authors, in the book, cast doubt on Keyser's memory, writing that “Keyser’s memory might be affected by her struggles with alcohol and other substances.” Keyser, though, also informed the reporters of an apparent smear campaign directed at her, in an effort to get her to change her story.

Ford, in her explosive testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, indicated that it wasn't surprising Keyser wouldn't remember the episode.

"She didn’t know about the event. She was downstairs during the event and I did not share it with her,” Ford said.

Ford added: “Leland has significant health challenges, and I’m happy that she’s focusing on herself and getting the health treatment that she needs, and she let me know that she needed her lawyer to take care of this for her, and she texted me right afterward with an apology and good wishes, and et cetera.”

Rather than mention Keyser's latest remarks, the Times' article instead focused on a new accuser mentioned in the book, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh. But the Times' article omitted key details from the book, including that the accuser herself had no recollection of the event.

The Times later published an editors' note adding the information, but not before virtually all 2020 Democratic presidential candidates demanded Kavanaugh's' impeachment.

Throughout the day on Sunday, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker and Julian Castro, among others, declared that Kavanaugh must be removed from office, citing the allegation.

The Times' update also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

The only firsthand account concerning the supposed attack in the original piece, which was published on Saturday, came from a Clinton-connected lawyer who claimed to have witnessed it. The lawyer, Max Stier, did not actually provide his account directly; the Times acknowledged that "two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier" had relayed his supposed version of events.

The Times did not mention Stier's work as a Clinton defense attorney, or Stier's legal battles with Kavanaugh during the Whitewater investigation, and simply called him a "respected thought leader."

The Times went on to note in the article that it had "corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier," but the article apparently meant only that the Times had corroborated that Stier made his claim to the FBI. No firsthand corroboration of the alleged episode was apparently obtained.

The Times' revision stated: "Editors' Note: An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book's account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article."

The Times' update came only after The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway, who reviewed an advance copy of the book, first flagged the article's omission on Twitter — prompting other commentators to press the issue.

The Times did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News seeking comment. But commentators made clear they felt the paper's note wasn't sufficient.


"Should I be surprised at this point that the NYT would make such an unforgivable oversight?" asked RealClearInvestigations' Mark Hemingway.

Wrote the Washington Examiner's Jerry Dunleavy: "Crazy how the 'one element' that wasn’t included in the original article was the part where the alleged victim’s friends said she doesn’t remember it happening."

For his part, President Trump unloaded on the Times, and suggested Kavanaugh should sue.

"The one who is actually being assaulted is Justice Kavanaugh - Assaulted by lies and Fake News!" Trump wrote. "This is all about the LameStream Media working with their partner, the Dems."

He added: "DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT THESE HORRIBLE PEOPLE WILL DO OR SAY. They are looking to destroy, and influence his opinions - but played the game badly. They should be sued!"

Separately, the Times' article states that seven new witnesses could corroborate Deborah Ramirez's account that Kavanaugh allegedly exposed himself at a party. Only one of those second-hand witnesses claims to have heard about Kavanaugh's possible involvement at the time, according to the book, and Ramirez herself previously acknowledged she was not sure Kavanaugh was the culprit. Senate investigators and the FBI were unable to corroborate Ramirez's claims, and Ramirez did not cooperate with the GOP probe.