In the weeks after Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party in high school, she was unable to produce any corroborating, contemporaneous witnesses to demonstrate that she had mentioned the alleged assault to anyone — or even that she had ever met Kavanaugh.
In fact, Ford’s friend Leland Keyser would expressly contradict Ford’s narrative, saying it “just didn’t make any sense.” Although Ford claimed Keyser had attended the 1982 party during which the alleged assault occurred, Keyser had no recollection of the event or anything like it, and asserted that it was implausible that Ford couldn’t recall how she had gotten home or where exactly the party had occurred. Kavanaugh forcefully denied the accusation.
Nevertheless, Ford’s accusation immediately reverberated throughout the nation’s political landscape and dominated the coverage of every major media organization. Virtually all Democratic senators called for a serious inquiry, if not Kavanaugh’s withdrawal from consideration for the Supreme Court. Later, accusations by Deborah Ramirez and Michael Avenatti client Julie Swetnick, although also uncorroborated, only added fuel to those calls.
Now, more than a month after Tara Reade alleged that Joe Biden sexually assaulted her when she worked for him as a staffer, those same Democrats and media outlets are mostly silent. Reade, however, has presented substantially more corroborating evidence than Ford did when she leveled her claims in 2018.
Biden himself hasn’t addressed the allegation against him, and no one in the media has asked him about it during interviews. Representatives for Biden’s campaign have denied the allegations.
At the same time, information has surfaced that has led critics to question Reade’s story, just as Ford’s changing narrative threatened to undercut her testimony.
A review of the evidence follows.
The witnesses – Tara Reade
Jeanette Altimus. Reade’s mother called in to CNN’s “Larry King Live” on August 11, 1993, during a program titled “Washington: The Cruelest City on Earth?”
King introduced a caller from San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Intercept reported that congressional records “list August 1993 as Reade’s last month of employment with Biden’s Senate office, and, according to property records, Reade’s mother, Jeanette Altimus, was living in San Luis Obispo County.”
The call did not explicitly reference Biden or sexual assault, but Reade has said her mother was indeed discussing her experience with Biden:
KING: San Luis Obispo, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.
KING: In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?
CALLER: That’s true.
#BREAKING: HERE is the video from August 11,1993's 'Larry King Live' described by @TheIntercept (and Tara Reade) as allegedly featuring her mother calling in and alluding to Reade's sexual assault claims against @JoeBiden (blog here by @ScottJW) https://t.co/fCgEqBnX7n pic.twitter.com/V5FGHskv56
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 24, 2020
Lynda LaCasse. Reade’s former next-door neighbor, a self-described Biden supporter, came forward this week and spoke on the record with Rich McHugh of Business Insider. “This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” LaCasse said, recalling a conversation with Reade that occurred in either 1995 or 1996.
Lorraine Sanchez. A former co-worker of Reade’s also told Business Insider this week that Reade had mentioned the episode, although without referring to Biden by name. “[Reade said] she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in DC,” Sanchez told the publication, “and as a result of her voicing her concerns to her supervisors, she was let go, fired.”
Collin Moulton and an unnamed friend. Reade’s brother has told The Intercept that Reade mentioned the alleged assault at the time. “Both her brother and friend also confirmed Reade had told her mother, and that her mother, a longtime feminist and activist, urged her to go to the police,” The Intercept reported.
The New York Times separately reported that Reade told two unnamed friends about the episode — one at the time, and another in 2008. The paper later stealth-edited its story at the request of the Biden campaign.
Marianne Baker. The former executive assistant in Biden’s office and a supervisor who would have received Reade’s harassment complaint has come out in defense of Biden.
“In all my years working for Sen. Biden, I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone,” Baker said. “I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager. These clearly false allegations are in complete contradiction to both the inner workings of our Senate office and to the man I know and worked so closely with for almost two decades.”
Dennis Toner. Biden’s former deputy chief of staff. Reade said she had complained about feeling uncomfortable to Toner, but said she did not mention the assault. Toner has called Reade’s claim an “outrageous accusation that’s totally untrue.” He added, “I would remember something like this if it ever came up.”
Ted Kaufman. Biden’s former chief of staff. He has remarked: “It never came up. And I sure would have remembered if it did.”
The witnesses – Christine Blasey Ford
Leland Keyser. During the Kavanaugh hearings, a lawyer for Keyser told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she “does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present.” At the same time, Keyser said she was close friends with Ford since their days at the Holton-Arms all-girls school in Maryland, and believed her accusation.
“It’s not surprising that Ms. Keyser has no recollection of the evening as they did not discuss it,” one of Ford’s lawyers said. “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.”
However, in later interviews — including with Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino, as well as The New York Times — Keyser made clear her doubts about Ford’s story ran deeper.
“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 going to get home,” Keyser said. She added that she didn’t remember parties like the one Ford described, or spending much time with Georgetown Prep students like Kavanaugh, whom Keyser said she didn’t recall.
“Those facts together I don’t recollect, and it just doesn’t make any sense,” Keyser said — but she noted that she had spoken to many people who “wanted me to remember something different.”
Hemingway and Severino also reported that Ford’s father had supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Mark Judge. Ford identified Judge as one of her alleged assailants at the party. A self-described NBC News “hot take” at the time touted Judge as a major piece of potential corroboration.
“If you are still inclined to believe that Ford is lying, ask yourself: Why would she create a defense witness by identifying Mark Judge, who was and still is indisputably a friend of Kavanaugh’s, as being present and participating in this attack?” the hot-take author asked. “Why would she place at the scene an individual who could, because of loyalties to his friend, contradict her account if she were making this up? She wouldn’t.”
However, Judge denied Ford’s allegation, and he didn’t provide any support for her claims. When The Washington Post hunted Judge down at a beach house in Delaware, he said only: “How did you find me?”
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