Friend of Kavanaugh Accuser Felt Pressure to Revisit Statement Regarding Alleged Sexual Assault

Leland Keyser's statement stated she couldn't corroborate Ford’s account

Christine Blasey Ford / Getty Images
October 5, 2018

A friend of Christine Blasey Ford told the FBI she felt pressured by Ford's allies to revisit her initial statement that she knew nothing about an alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Leland Keyser, who Ford has said was present at the gathering where she was allegedly assaulted, told investigators that Monica McLean, a retired FBI agent and a friend of Ford’s, had urged her to "clarify" her statement, the Wall Street Journal reports. Keyser later updated her statement to say she believed but could not corroborate Ford’s account.

Ford testified last week that Kavanaugh groped her and attempted to force himself on her at a party while they were in high school.

On Sept. 23, Keyser's attorney said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his client had no recollection of attending a party with Kavanaugh, who she said she did not know. That same day, she told the Washington Post she believed Ford. Less than a week later, Keyser's lawyer sent another letter saying his client believed Ford's allegation, but she could not corroborate it.

Someone close to the former classmates said mutual friends of Ford and Keyser, including McLean, had contacted Keyser after her initial statement to warn her that Republicans were using the statement to challenge Ford's allegation. The friends told Keyser that she should revise her statement if she meant to say she did not remember the party, rather than say it had never happened. According to the person familiar with the matter, the friends had not "pressured" Keyser.

On Thursday, the FBI sent the White House and Senate a package of information that included text messages from McLean to Keyser, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal.

McLean's lawyer, David Laufman, issued a statement regarding his client: "Any notion or claim that Ms. McLean pressured Leland Keyser to alter Ms. Keyser’s account of what she recalled concerning the alleged incident between Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is absolutely false."

In Kavanaugh's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, he referenced Keyser's initial statement, saying, "Dr. Ford’s allegation is not merely uncorroborated, it is refuted by the very people she says were there, including by a long-time friend of hers."

Ford, during her testimony, said she never told Keyser about her assault.

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

Ford added that did not "expect" Keyser would remember the evening, calling it an otherwise "very unremarkable party." She noted that Keyser has "significant health challenges" and "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."