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Q: Did Christine Blasey Ford recant her accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh?
A: No. Comments by President Trump may have left that impression. But he was referring to a little-known case that had nothing to do with Ford.
President Trump has claimed several times that Ms. Ford now admits that she never met Judge Kavanaugh, and the sexual assault she claimed occurred in fact never happened. Is this True?
During a rally in Missouri the night before the midterm elections, President Donald Trump said that “the accuser of Brett Kavanaugh” has “admitted she never met him, she never saw him … it was false accusations, it was a scam, it was fake.”
Trump, Nov. 5: And you saw what happened on Friday, also. We had great jobs numbers, but we also had something else. The accuser of Brett Kavanaugh, a man who is a fine man, the accuser admitted she never met him, she never saw him, he never touched her, talked to her, he had nothing to do with her, she made up the story, it was false accusations, it was a scam, it was fake. It was all fake. And you know, when that came about, people were calling for him to immediately get out. Think of that. Think if he would have done that, and then we found out that it was all false accusations. False statements. A made-up story. And let’s look at the rest of them please. Let’s look at the rest of them. Because that man suffered.
Trump had made similar comments at a rally in Montana two days earlier, saying that “one of [Kavanaugh’s] accusers … just came out a little while ago and said it was all a lie; that she never met now-Justice Kavanaugh. … It was a made-up story.”
The same day, Trump tweeted a similar statement:
A vicious accuser of Justice Kavanaugh has just admitted that she was lying, her story was totally made up, or FAKE! Can you imagine if he didn’t become a Justice of the Supreme Court because of her disgusting False Statements. What about the others? Where are the Dems on this?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2018
Dozens of our readers have written to us about this, some of them asking if Ford — the woman who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegations of sexual assault by Kavanaugh — had recanted her claims. That’s not accurate.
It is certainly understandable that some assumed Trump was talking about Ford when he referred to “the accuser of Brett Kavanaugh.” Ford was by far the most publicly identified Kavanaugh accuser, and the only one to personally testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, an event watched by millions around the country. Ford said Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school 36 years ago.
In fact, though, Trump was referring to a bit player in the Kavanaugh saga, a woman who admitted that she falsely claimed to have penned an anonymous letter claiming that Kavanaugh and another man had raped her.
The handwritten anonymous letter in question was sent to Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris’ office, which immediately passed the letter along to Senate Judiciary Committee investigators on Sept. 25. The letter, signed “Jane Doe” from Oceanside, California, alleged that Kavanaugh and another man raped her in the backseat of a car. On Sept. 26, Senate committee staff questioned Kavanaugh about the accusations in the letter. Kavanaugh said the claim was “ridiculous,” “a crock” and “didn’t happen.” A transcript of the interview and the text of the letter were publicly released by the committee that day, and a few media outlets — but only a few — reported on it.
On Oct. 3, two days before the Senate narrowly confirmed Kavanaugh, the judiciary committee got an email from Judy Munro-Leighton in which she claimed to be “Jane Doe from Oceanside CA.” However, during a phone interview with judiciary investigators on Nov. 1, Munro-Leighton “admitted, contrary to her prior claims, that she had not been sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh and was not the author of the original ‘Jane Doe’ letter,” according to a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley referring Munro-Leighton to the attorney general and FBI for investigation into possible charges: making a materially false statement to a Senate committee and obstruction. According to Grassley’s letter, Munro-Leighton said she made up the story to “grab attention” and that it was “just a ploy” to oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
To be clear, though, Senate investigators don’t know who wrote the original, anonymous letter that was sent to Harris’ office, only that it wasn’t Munro-Leighton.
As we said, the allegations contained in the anonymous letter were not widely reported by national media outlets, certainly not as widely as the allegations made by Ford, Deborah Ramirez — a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale who said he exposed himself to her at a party — and Julie Swetnick — who claimed she witnessed Kavanaugh grabbing women inappropriately.
In addition to Munroe-Leighton, Grassley referred Swetnick and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, to the Justice Department for criminal investigation related to a potential conspiracy to provide materially false statements to Congress and obstruction.
No referral has been made for Ford or Ramirez.
Trump initially said he found Ford’s testimony “very compelling” and that she was a “very credible witness.” But he later mocked her memory of the event — in some cases falsely — and repeatedly questioned its truth. After Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Trump said he was “100 percent certain” that Kavanaugh did not commit any sexual assault.
C-SPAN. President Trump’s rally in Missouri. 5 Nov 2018.
Pollak, Joel B. “Brett Kavanaugh Rape Accuser Admits She Made Up Her Story.” Breitbart. 2 Nov 2018.
Straub, Steve. “Kavanaugh Accuser RECANTS; Says She Made It Up.” The Federalist Papers. 2 Nov 2018.
Edwards, Haley Sweetland. “How Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony Changed America.” Time. 4 Oct 2018.
Letter from Sen. Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray. 2 Nov 2018.
Segers, Grace. “Christine Blasey Ford is “100 percent” certain Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her.” CBS News. 27 Sep 2018.
Dinan, Stephen. “Two men say they, not Brett Kavanaugh, may have been responsible for Christine Blasey Ford assault.” Washington Times. 27 Sep 2018.
McDonald, Jeff. “Kavanaugh was questioned about anonymous letter alleging he and a friend attacked Oceanside woman.” San Diego Union-Tribune. 1 Oct 2018.
Farrow, Ronan, and Mayer, Jane. “Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years.” New Yorker. 23 Sep 2018.
Snow, Kate. “Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick speaks out on sexual abuse allegations.” NBC News. 1 Oct 2018.
Senate Committee on the Judiciary. “Swetnick, Avenatti Referred for Criminal Investigation.” 25 Oct 2018.
Reints, Renae. “Trump Calls Christine Blasey Ford a ‘Very Credible Witness.’” Fortune. 28 Sep 2018.
Kiely, Eugene. “Trump Repeatedly Wrong on Ford’s Testimony.” FactCheck.org. 4 Oct 2018.
Jackson, David. “Trump says his speech attacking Christine Ford helped lead to Kavanaugh’s confirmation.” USA Today. 6 Oct 2018.