Two Post Office Inspector General special agents pressured USPS Whistleblower Richard Hopkins into making an “amended statement” during an interrogation on Monday, after warning him he could be charged with using deception to raise money on a GoFundMe page.
Hopkins wore a wire during the interview with USPS Inspector General special agents Russell Strasser and Charles Klein out of “fear of retaliation from his superiors and labor representatives.”
Project Veritas on Wednesday released a two hour audio of the grilling the Marine vet had to endure.
While the video does show Hopkins agreeing to amend some details in his affidavit alleging election fraud on the part of his supervisors, he did not “completely recant” his story, as Democrats on the House Oversight Committee tweeted on Wednesday.
In fact, Hopkins told Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe on Tuesday that he stands by his claim that he and his co-workers were ordered to collect and separate late mail-in ballots, and that he overheard a heated conversation between two of his supervisors regarding the backdating of ballots.
Agent Strasser told Hopkins during the interrogation, “OK, this storm is getting crazy, right? It’s out of a lot of people’s control, and so the reason they called me in is to try to harness that storm, try to reel it back in before it gets really crazy We have senators involved. We have the Department of Justice involved.”
Strasser presented himself as a friend and fellow veteran looking to protect him Hopkins, while gently turning the screws to make him take back parts of his story.
“I’m not while I am, actually, I am trying to twist you a little bit because in that believe it or not, your mind will kick in,” Strasser said to Hopkins. “We like to control our mind and when we do that, we can convince ourselves of a memory, but when you’re under a little bit of stress, which is what I’m doing to you purposely, your mind can be a little bit clear.”
Hopkins said he told Strasser that Project Veritas retained lawyers for him, but Strasser told him that did not count. There was also no union representative present.
The postal service inspector general agent told Hopkins that part of his job of protecting him was to “shave” his memory of what he heard.
Strasser also warned Hopkins that he could be accused of raising the more than $130,000 donated on his GoFundMe page deceptively unless he allowed Strasser to “protect” him.
The IG agent explained that the best way to protect him was to have Hopkins sign an “updated” statement that undercut what he said in his affidavit.
Hopkins said that on Monday, that after his interview with the USPS inspectors, he went out and delivered his mail as usual, and after he clocked out, he was told not to return to work until the investigation was over. He said received a letter on Tuesday saying he was on “unpaid suspension.”
“I honestly made an oath when I joined the Marine Corps,” Hopkins told Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe. “As most military guys say, it’s a blank check. We never give up that check. We’re going to protect our country and our constitution until the day we die. That’s the point where that check is cashed.”
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) November 11, 2020
Hopkins swore in an affidavit that Nov. 4 that he overheard his postmaster rebuking a supervisor for failing to postmark a late ballot Nov. 3, Election Day. He said he was standing close to the two men, but they could not see him standing there, because he was still sorting mail for his route behind bins.
“A lot of the stuff that’s going on behind the scenes, like what I’m talking about them doing at the PO [post office],” he said. “I don’t think–I wasn’t supposed to hear that–I was one of the last carriers in the building. I don’t even think he realized I was still there; you know what I’m saying? Backdating.”
During the grilling, Hopkins described how “Stephanie,” an assistant to the postmaster, had gone around to all of the postal employees two days after the election and urged them to keep collecting ballots because “every vote counts.”
“On the fifth, Stephanie comes by your bay, and what did she say?”
After being cautioned to be very precise in his words about what she told him, Hopkins said: “Make sure to collect all the ballots you can find on the street. Every vote counts. Very specific on that part.”
“On the fifth she said that?” Strasser asked.
“Yes,” Hopkins replied.
Hopkins said she was “running around” and making “a big deal” of her request that “everybody gets them ballots!” He told Strasser that he thought that was “weird” because voting was supposed to end on the third.
“That was a red flag for me. A huge red flag. And mind you, I voted for Trump and am a Libertarian,” Hopkins said. He added that he told one of his liberal friends that he really doesn’t care who wins the presidential race. “If Biden wins, I’m going to laugh. I don’t care. I just want it done properly,” he said. “Legally. There is a legal manner in this.”
He expressed frustration that no one else was questioning “why are we doing this now?”
In his affidavit, Hopkins stated that he overheard a discussion between Postmaster Rob Weisenbach and Darrell Locke, a supervisor in the Erie, Pennsylvania post office.
Weisenbach and Locke discussed how on November 4, 2020, they had back-dated the postmark on all but one of the ballots collected on November 4, 2020 to make it appear as though the ballots had instead been collected on November 3, 2020. I overheard Weisenbach tell Locke that they “messed up yesterday” – November 4, 2020 – by accidentally postmarking one ballot as having been collected November 4, 2020 (when it had actually been collected). Importantly, Weisenbach and his assistant had ordered my co-workers and I to continue picking up ballots after November 3 despite the requirement that ballots be mailed by then. Weisenbach directed that ballots be picked up through Friday, November 6, 2020.
The agents were able to talk Hopkins into acknowledging that the conversation that he had actually heard was not as detailed as he’d stated in the affidavit, and that he may have made some assumptions to fill in some gaps.
Strasser told Hopkins “the facts in the affidavit need need clarification and you are willing to stand by whatever clarification we do here today.”
The agent added that he believed the situation had gotten way out of hand and that he and Klein were trying to “fill in as many potholes” as they could.
He also suggested that the folks at Project Veritas did not have Hopkins’ best interests at heart when they took up his case.
“All these other entities and people that are quote, unquote protecting you—I’m nervous that they’re self-interested,” he said.
“So the facts contained in the affidavit dated 11-6-2020 need to be amended for accuracy. Sound fair?” Strasser told the whistleblower.
Hopkins took a deep breath.
“Now will people start coming out and calling me a liar because I’m saying this?” he asked.
Strasser assured the Hopkins that he would not be telling anybody anything unless he told him to.
“Nobody can have access to out casework unless they go through a legal process to have them reviewed or released and a normal citizen has to go through a Freedom of Information Act to do that and that takes forever.”
The Washington Post and the Washington Examiner reported the very next day that Hopkins had completely recanted his story. In fact, Washington Post reporter Jacob Bogage suggested on CNN that one of his anonymous sources was Strasser himself.
Hopkins asked if there was any way he could be given a copy of the updated statement so he could amend it to reflect what he believes are the facts, and was told that they would see, but because it was a federal investigation, it might not be possible.
Strasser went through the affidavit (below) with Hopkins line by line. The whistleblower told the agents that the affidavit was drawn up by a Project Veritas lawyer.
Postmaster Rob Weisenbach directed my co-workers and I to pick up ballots after Election Day and provide them to him.
As discussed more fully below, I heard Weisenbach tell a supervisor at my office that Weisenbach was back-dating the postmarks on the ballots to make it appear as though the ballots had been collected on November 3, 2020 despite them in fact being collected on November 4 and possibly later.
On November 5, 2020, as I was preparing my mail for delivery, I saw Weisenbach with Darrell Locke, one of the supervisors for the Erie, Pennsylvania post office having a discussion. Weisenbach and Locke discussed how on November 4, 2020, they had back-dated the postmark on all but one of the ballots collected on November 4, 2020 to make it appear as though the ballots had instead been collected on November 3, 2020. I overheard Weisenbach tell Locke that they “messed up yesterday” – November 4, 2020 – by accidentally postmarking one ballot as having been collected November 4, 2020 (when it had actually been collected).
Importantly, Weisenbach and his assistant had ordered my co-workers and I to continue picking up ballots after November 3 despite the requirement that ballots be mailed by then. Weisenbach directed that ballots be picked up through Friday, November 6, 2020. Moreover, Weisenbach directed that all ballots picked up through November 6, 2020 were to be given to him, presumably so they could be backdated by him and/or Locke. My understanding of Pennsylvania law is that ballots cannot be counted unless they were mailed by 8:00 p.m. on November 3, 2020. Weisenbach’s comments were deeply concerning to me and appeared to me to be an attempt by Weisenbach and/or Locke to improperly backdate ballots received after the legal deadline so these late ballots could be counted – something I understand to be illegal and against Pennsylvania law.
Accordingly, I brought Weisenbach’s information to the public through Project Veritas. The next day, November 6, I was interrogated by a USPS postal inspector who, knowing I was the whistleblower who brought Weisenbach’s directives to light, indicated they were investigating the matter. I was also approached by a representative of the postal worker union who began asking me about old allegations against me which have long been resolved. I refuse to be silenced, so I decided to reveal my identity and have pledged to testify regarding what I heard and what I was ordered to do. I, Richard Hopkins, hereby state that the facts above set forth are true and correct (or are true and correct to the best of my knowledge, information and belief). I understand that the statements herein are made subject to the penalties of 18Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities). I further declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on this 6th day of November, 2020, at Erie, Pennsylvania.
Hopkins told the interrogators that Stephanie was the supervisor who actually directed his co-workers to provide late ballots to his closing supervisors, so the agents amended his statement to reflect that.
Strasser also suggested that the sentence about the overheard conversation be amended to say, “from what I heard from a conversation between Weisenbach and Darryl, my logical assumption was that he was suggesting that they’re backdating ballots.”
The agent added, “but I want to say you never heard him say to backdate. You never heard that word, right?”
Hopkins said not specifically but it was “on the background.”
Strasser asked Hopkins if he’d heard Weisenbach use the term, “messed up,” and the whistleblower said he wasn’t actually sure about that. So the agents amended his statement to reflect that he wasn’t sure Weisenbach had used the term, “messed up.”
The agent said they would amend the record to reflect, again, that he had made a logical assumption from the conversation he overheard that his supervisors were discussing the backdating of ballots. Hopkins said he specifically remembered that they had brought up only one ballot that was postmarked before.
Strasser amended Hopkins’ statement to say that it was his “impression that only one ballot was postmarked on the 4th (of November) for the 4th.
When Hopkins pointed out that his two supervisors were not having a “friendly conversation,” Strasser said he couldn’t guarantee that that detail would be put in the amended statement.
“It’s so weird that we’re picking up ballots because at this point they’re no longer valid. Wouldn’t it be best to inform somebody that ‘hey we can’t pick these up because they’re no longer valid?” the whistleblower pointed out. He argued that it would have made more sense to send the ballots to Pittsburgh to be postmarked there instead of separating them.
O’Keefe reported Wednesday evening that Special Agent Strasser runs an anti-Trump burner account on Twitter.
The Twitter Account for Federal Agent of the IG Office Russell Strasser is @TitansFanJeff
Russell deleted all of his photos off of his Twitter after we released the full audio of the interrogation.
Russell “trying to twist you” “scare you” are an embarrassment to the badge pic.twitter.com/GhFyCDk9LE
— James O'Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) November 11, 2020