Citing three anonymous sources from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General, the Washington Post on Tuesday reported that a USPS whistleblower has admitted that he fabricated allegations of election fraud at a post office in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The postal worker, Richard Hopkins, 32, had accused his supervisors of backdating late ballots to indicate that they arrived by Nov. 3, Election Day.
Hopkins told Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, however, that he has NOT retracted his claims. O’Keefe announced on Twitter that federal agents “coerced” Hopkins for four hours to sign a statement he didn’t understand while depriving him of legal representation.
“We have recordings of the federal agents, who COERCED this man through a 4 hour interrogation, without representation,” O’Keefe tweeted, adding that the whistleblower “stands by his original affidavit re: backdating ballots.”
We’re about to release hours of recordings of federal agents who admit to “coercing” him.
Hopkins requested info about what agents made him sign, he’s legally entitled to it! pic.twitter.com/o47IvOToN2
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) November 10, 2020
According to O’Keefe, Hopkins tried to contact the Washington Post reporters Shawn Boburg and Jacob Bogage to tell them to include in their report his statement that he did not recant his claims—but they refused to talk to him.
Hopkins was reportedly wearing a wire during the interview with the USPS IG interviewers on Monday out of “fear of retaliation from his superiors and labor representatives.” Neil McCabe, the communications director for Project Veritas, told the Washington Examiner that Hopkins “was told he could be charged with using deception to raise money on a GoFundMe page if he didn’t “update” his affidavit in exchange for protection.” O’Keefe said on Twitter that at one point in the interview, the interrogators had the Marine vet in tears.
Hopkins’s GoFundMe page had raised more than $136,000 by Tuesday evening, but was removed by GoFundMe after the Washington Post’s story was published Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the platform.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) cited Hopkins’ allegations in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William Barr subsequently directed federal prosecutors to open investigations into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud.
In a late night Twitter thread, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee joined the Washington Post in debunking Hopkins’ claims, saying that he had “completely RECANTED.”
“BREAKING NEWS: Erie, Pa. #USPS whistleblower completely RECANTED his allegations of a supervisor tampering with mail-in ballots after being questioned by investigators, according to IG,” the Oversight Dems tweeted.
BREAKING NEWS: Erie, Pa. #USPS whistleblower completely RECANTED his allegations of a supervisor tampering with mail-in ballots after being questioned by investigators, according to IG.
— Oversight Committee (@OversightDems) November 10, 2020
“Here are the facts: Richard Hopkins is a USPS employee in Erie, Pa. He signed a sworn affidavit with allegations of ballot tampering/fraud and went public through Project Veritas. #USPS IG began investigating last week,” the thread continued.
“#USPS IG investigators informed Committee staff today that they interviewed Hopkins on Friday, but that Hopkins RECANTED HIS ALLEGATIONS yesterday and did not explain why he signed a false affidavit,” the Oversight Dems tweeted.
The whistleblower signed a sworn affidavit alleging that his supervisors, including Erie Postmaster Rob Weisenbach, directed him and his co-workers to pick up ballots after Election Day and give them to him.
The U.S. Postal Service reportedly said in a statement over the weekend that it had referred the matter to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Office of Inspector General.
Hopkins, who worked out of the USPS General Mail Facility, was suspended without pay after his interview with the USPS inspector general team.
His boss, Weisenback, denied Hopkins’ allegations in a Facebook post over the weekend.
“Good evening my friends,” Weisenbach wrote. “There has been awful things posted about the USPS and here is my statement. The allegations made against me and the Erie Post Office are 100% false made by an employee that was recently disciplined multiple times.”
He added: “The Erie Post Office did not back date any ballots.”
Hopkins, a Marine vet, however, told Project Veritas Founder James O’Keefe Tuesday that he has not retracted his claims.
“I am the postal employee who came out and whistleblew on the Erie, PA Postal Office,” he said in a taped statement. “I am right now at this very moment looking at an article written by the Washington Post. Says that I fabricated the allegations of ballot tampering. I’m here to say that I did not recant my statements. That did not happen.”
USPS Whistleblower Richard Hopkins: “I DID NOT RECANT”@shawnboburg and @jacobbogage have been played by the same federal agents on the audio ‘coercing,’ ‘scaring’ the whistleblower to water down allegations. As reporters, they are REQUIRED to include Richard’s denial. REQUIRED pic.twitter.com/8Rj5yWSljz
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) November 11, 2020
O’Keefe released some of the audio from the interrogation Tuesday night.
“They were grilling the hell out of me,” Hopkins told O’Keefe. He added that he felt “kinda pissed,” and like he’d been “played.”
During the interview, an investigator from the USPS Office of the IG, told Hopkins that his job was to “harness the storm” he’d caused before it got “really crazy.”
“This storm is getting crazy. It’s out of a lot of peoples’ control,” said Russel Strasser, the interrogator. “And so the reason they called me in is to try to harness the storm—try to reel it back in before it gets really crazy.”
Strasser continued: “Because we have senators involved, we have the Department of Justice involved …”
Hopkins said “Trumps’ lawyer’s teams gotten ahold of me.”
Strasser interrupted to say that he “is trying to twist him a little bit” to help his mind see things more clearly.
“When you’re under a little bit of stress, which is what I’m doing to you purposefully, your mind can be a little bit clearer,” he said. “This is all on purpose,” Strasser added. “I am not scaring you. But I am scaring you.”
When O’Keefe asked Hopkins if he thought the federal agents had his back, the whistleblower replied, “at this point no, Hell no!”
RECORDING: Federal agents “coerce” USPS whistleblower Hopkins to water down story. Hopkins doubles down…
Agent Strasser: “I am trying to twist you a little bit”
“I am scaring you here”…” we have Senators involved…DOJ involved…reason they called me is to try to harness.” pic.twitter.com/tK2JPu6Wqm
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) November 11, 2020
President Trump signaled his support for Hopkins Wednesday morning in a retweet of a Washington Times story about the case.
“Stays with the truth, his original story,” the president tweeted.