With Christine Blasey Ford set to testify this Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, it’s time to move on to the next looming question surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination: will her words actually make a difference to any Republican senators?
The possibility that they will may have taken a hit Saturday night.
A possible witness who Ford said was at the party where Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her said she has no recollection of attending it. CNN reported on Saturday that the Senate Judiciary Committee had reached out to Leland Ingham Keyser, an old friend of Ford’s, this week. In a statement provided to the committee, her lawyer 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.”
Keyser did tell the Washington Post that she believed her friend’s account.
In a statement, Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz said, “It’s not surprising that Ms. Keyser has no recollection of the evening as they did not discuss it. It’s also unremarkable that Ms. Keyser does not remember attending a specific gathering 30 years ago at which nothing of consequence happened to her. Dr. Ford of course will never forget this gathering because of what happened to her there.”
Patrick J. Smyth, another former classmate who said he was identified as also attending the party, also told the Judiciary Committee this week that he did not recall it. “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,” his lawyer wrote in a letter, which also included a ringing endorsement of Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Ford has said five people were at the gathering, and four of them claim not to remember it: Keyser, Smith, Kavanaugh, and his friend Mark Judge, who Ford has said was in the room when the alleged assault took place.
It is hardly surprising that anyone would fail to remember a single, unexceptional evening from 36 years ago. By all accounts, Christine Ford is a credible witness, and a Fox News poll released on Sunday show that the American people believe her story over Kavanaugh’s. (A recent HuffPost poll shows a slightly different result.) But all that may matter little to a Republican Party whose leadership clearly wants to do a minimum amount of due diligence, then push through their nominee as quickly as possible.
Republicans refused to authorize an FBI investigation of the alleged incident — which could have wrapped up within days — before Ford’s testimony. And, in a measure of how half-baked its measures are, the GOP has shown no interest in hearing testimony from Judge, Kavanaugh’s close high-school friend who Ford has said was jumping on the bed as Kavanaugh was assaulting her, which allowed her to escape. Judge wrote a book in which he described a culture of heavy drinking during his younger years; Ford has said both he and Kavanaugh were “stumbling drunk” when the assault took place.
This means that, barring any more major surprises, an awful lot will come down to Ford’s testimony itself. Democratic senator Patty Murray said Sunday on Meet the Press that this is exactly what the GOP wants.