Last year, when Christine Blasey Ford emerged after then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings to accuse him of attempted rape at a house party when both were teenagers, there were many unanswered questions both about her story and her credibility.
She offered no proof that she and Kavanaugh had ever even met. She couldn’t remember where it happened, when it happened, or how she arrived at or departed from the party. None of the four alleged witnesses she eventually named, including one of her closest lifelong friends, corroborated her accusations. Prior to airing her allegations with the media, she scrubbed her entire social media history that indicated she was a liberal activist.
To this day, there is zero evidence beyond her claims that the alleged assault ever happened. One detail, however, remains particularly intriguing. The Blasey family stayed conspicuously silent about the veracity of her allegations. A public letter of support for Ford that began “As members of Christine Blasey Ford’s family . . .” wasn’t signed by a single blood relative. Reached for comment by the Washington Post, her father simply said, “I think all of the Blasey family would support her. I think her record stands for itself. Her schooling, her jobs and so on,” before hanging up.
Privately, however, it appears the Blasey family had significant doubts about what Ford was trying to accomplish by coming forward and making unsubstantiated allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Within days of Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, a fascinating encounter took place. Brett Kavanaugh’s father was approached by Ford’s father at the golf club where they are both members.
Ralph Blasey, Ford’s father, went out of his way to offer to Ed Kavanaugh his support of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, according to multiple people familiar with the conversation that took place at Burning Tree Club in Bethesda, Maryland. “I’m glad Brett was confirmed,” Ralph Blasey told Ed Kavanaugh, shaking his hand. Blasey added that the ordeal had been tough for both families.
The encounter immediately caused a stir at the close-knit private golf club as staff and members shared the news. The conversation between the two men echoed a letter that Blasey had previously sent to the elder Kavanaugh. Neither man returned requests for comment about the exchanges.
Blasey never explicitly addressed the credibility of his daughter’s allegations, but he presumably wouldn’t have supported the nomination of a man he believed tried to rape his daughter.
It wasn’t just Ford’s father. The national drama played out on a decidedly local scale as the D.C.-based family and friends of Ford’s quietly apologized to friends and family of Kavanaugh, even as the toxic political environment made it punitive for them to speak up publicly.
One friend who was subjected to both public scrutiny and private pressure because she cast doubt on Ford’s story was Leland Keyser, one of Ford’s closest friends at the time of the alleged attack. Keyser wanted to support her but nevertheless had no recollection of the event.
Keyser’s son noted on a GoFundMe page for his mother that she put “everything in her life at risk” in order to tell the truth about Ford’s allegations. Son Alex Beckel wrote that his mom “resisted immense personal pressure and courageously came forward with the truth,” adding that she “stood up and did what was right when she had everything to lose and nothing to gain.”
While there was no evidence to support Ford’s claim other than her testimony, some believed her because they said she would have no motivation to lie. Critics point to the nearly $1 million she raised in GoFundMe accounts and the honors that Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine bestowed on her. New books featuring her cooperation downplay the copious problems with her account.
So what was the point of the cavalcade of unsubstantiated allegations? Ford’s attorney Debra Katz offered not so much a hint as a confession. Ford testified that she had no political motivation. But in remarks captured on video, Katz admitted that Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh were at least in part driven by fear he might not sufficiently support unregulated abortion on the court.
“We were going to have a conservative” justice, she said, “but he will always have an asterisk next to his name” that will discredit any decision he makes regarding abortion. What’s more, she added, “that is part of what motivated Christine.”
Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino are the authors of the best seller Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court.