Yes, there is a new accusation against Judge Kavanaugh. I'll address the New Yorker piece at length later. For now, let's stick with the more serious claim. With public testimony now set for Thursday morning, we are just a few days away from Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser relaying their stories, on the record and under oath. That piece of news emerged over the weekend, along with a few details about the conditions, which sound more sensible than some of the ludicrous demands initially laid out by Prof. Ford's attorneys. But perhaps even more significant was a development that broke on Saturday evening. I received word that the mysteriously "missing" party attendee had finally been identified, and that she'd made a formal statement through her lawyer that she never knew Kavanaugh and had no memory of ever being at any party with him:
Hearing that the other woman at the alleged party (the one missing witness, as identified by the accuser) has come forward & says she doesn’t know Kavanaugh & has no recollection of attending any party that he did.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 23, 2018
Four alleged witnesses. All four do not corroborate her story.
Sure enough, this update was confirmed in the press shortly thereafter:
Setback for Ford team: Leland Keyser, believed to have been identified as one of 5 people at the party, told the cmte she “does not know Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, w/ or w/o Dr. Ford” https://t.co/QSaVkYixEs— Nicholas Fandos (@npfandos) September 23, 2018
This is very significant. One of the discrepancies in Ford's story -- setting aside her inability to name the scene of the alleged assault, or even the month in 1982 in which it supposedly took place -- involves the number of people at the party, and the number of people involved in the claimed attack. She says two boys were in the room (including Kavanaugh), but her therapist's notes from 2012 (the first time she spoke about the incident) say that four boys were in the room. According to the Washington Post, Ford chalks this inconsistency up to a misunderstanding by her therapist, asserting that there were four boys at the party, not in the room. In her original letter to Sen. Feinstein, which the California Democrat sat on for roughly two months, Ford says there five total people at the party, including her. Having heard from Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, PJ Smyth, and the accuser, there was only one named witness who remained publicly unaccounted for. Until now. It turns out that this last witness was not a fourth boy, but a girl named Leland Ingham Keyser. That fact unto itself is another shift in Ford's official story. But that's not all:
[Keyser] is now executive producer of Bob Beckel's podcast. Keyser is the ex-wife of Beckel, a former Democratic operative and commentator. A search on OpenSecrets.org reveals Keyser's only political donation has been to former Democratic senator Byron Dorgan. Keyser's denial, as a female lifelong friend and Ford's last named witness, is the most consequential development that has occurred since Ford publicly stepped forward last Sunday and detailed her allegations to the Washington Post. Ford's allegation of the 1982 incident was told to no one until a 2012 therapy session, when Kavanaugh was first touted in the media as the most likely GOP Supreme Court nominee. All of Ford's named witnesses of the party, both male and female, have now denied any recollection of attending such a party.
This final named witness is a female, a Democrat, and a longtime friend of the accuser. She states outright not only that she doesn't recall attending this particular alleged party, but that she never knew Kavanaugh and was never at any party with him, as far as she can recall. So of the five people Ford places at this party 36 years ago, she is the only one who says it even took place. The other four have contradicted or rejected her memory of it, to varying degrees. This means that in addition to having zero contemporaneous corroboration of the assault happening (Ford says she told nobody for 30 years), we do not even have any current corroboration that the alleged party occurred at all, based on the testimony of all other individuals Ford herself has named as the only other attendees.
Ford's legal team is trying to downplay Keyser's statement as insignificant, arguing that it's not surprising that she wouldn't remember a party from so long ago, at which nothing remarkable happened to her. But the detail about never knowing Kavanaugh at all is an important one, especially since Ford specifically identified Keyser as one of the few people at that house. And it's interesting to see many of the same people who were loudly demanding an FBI investigation -- in which the named witnesses would be interviewed -- quickly pivoting to casually shrugging off those witnesses' lack of memories from 1982 as expected and inconsequential. Exactly:
Huh. Ford's lawyers flippantly dismiss the notion that any party witness could remember anything after demanding the FBI investigate and interview all the party witnesses. That's...something.— Scott Jennings (@ScottJenningsKY) September 23, 2018
And this, from an intellectually honest liberal writer:
Opponents of Kavanaugh are rationalizing Keyser's statement. But at this point we have nobody who admits to recalling the party (even Ford's friend) and nobody who heard Ford talk about the assault at the time.— Will Saletan (@saletan) September 23, 2018
Ford may well be telling the truth. But so far, zero corroboration. https://t.co/iuFmeSZ43F
I'll leave you with three items: (1) David French's article highlighting the major fallacy of citing studies that only two-to-ten percent of sexual assault allegations are false, (2) an adamant denial by a Yale professor who's been wildly accused of funneling women who look a certain way to serve as Kavanaugh clerks, and (3) in case you missed it, a disgraceful performance from a Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat on CNN yesterday:
CNN’s Jake Tapper: “Doesn’t Kavanaugh have the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?”— CNN (@CNN) September 23, 2018
Sen. Mazie Hirono: “I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases” #CNNSOTU https://t.co/E2UoZMzNhN pic.twitter.com/3mDb8ysskj
Hirono was asked about the presumption of innocence regarding this alleged decades-old assault, and her answer immediately veered into the non-sequitur of Kavanaugh's views on...abortion. She suggests that because she doesn't like Kavanaugh's judicial philosophy, he's more likely to be lying about attacking a girl in high school. It's a pathetic answer, but it's also revealing. Hirono very much seems to care a lot more about keeping Kavanaugh off the court, whatever it takes, than she does about evaluating any facts about this accusation -- which she's already categorically stated she believes. It's almost as if she doesn't care about Prof. Ford or the truth. And it's almost as if she's just latching on to anything that might derail Kavanaugh, hopefully allowing her party to leave the vacant SCOTUS seat open for two more years -- something else she's also said out loud. If Democrats want impartial observers to believe that this isn't all a giant pageant of abject partisan hackery, they might want to keep Hirono away from the cameras until the process is over.