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Postal worker admits to making up ballot tampering claims, say officials

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham cited the postal worker's claim in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation

Postal worker admits to making up ballot tampering claims, say officials
Cover Image Source: Absentee ballots at the Central Counting Board sit on a desk as they wait to be processed in the TCF Center on November 4, 2020, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

A Pennsylvania postal worker whose allegations of ballot tampering have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities in the 2020 presidential election, has reportedly recanted his claims. According to The Hill, the House Oversight Committee announced on Tuesday that Richard Hopkins went back on his assertion that a postmaster in Erie instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after election day. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham cited Hopkins's claim in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation, following which Attorney General William P. Barr — in a controversial move — authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud.


However, on Monday, the 32-year-old postal worker told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General that the allegations aren't true and signed an affidavit recanting his claims, reports The Washington Post. Democrats on the House Oversight Committee tweeted late Tuesday that the "whistleblower completely RECANTED his allegations of a supervisor tampering with mail-in ballots after being questioned by investigators" and that "#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."


Meanwhile, the Erie postmaster, Rob Weisenbach, reportedly called the allegations "100% false" in a Facebook post addressing Hopkins' claims. "There [have] 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. The Erie Post Office did not backdate any ballots," states the post, reports Erie Times-News. However, despite multiple reports that he has recanted his claims, in a YouTube video posted on Tuesday night, Hopkins denied recanting.


"I'm here to say I did not recant my statements. That did not happen," he says in the video. The video was shared on Twitter Tuesday night by Project Veritas (which first aired Hopkins' allegations last week) founder James O'Keefe who, on Saturday hailed Hopkins as "an American hero." He also claims to have recordings of agents questioning the postal worker and alleged that federal agents forced Hopkins to sign something he didn't understand. "They wouldn't let him leave," O'Keefe tweeted in all caps. Founded in 2010, Project Veritas uses deceptive undercover-style reporting and video to expose what it says is bias and corruption in the mainstream media. The organization's website is now said to include quotes from Hopkins and claims that Hopkins is willing to testify before Congress about what he heard.


Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page created under Hopkins's name had raised over $136,000 as of Tuesday evening. While donors praised him as a patriot and whistleblower, a spokesman for GoFundMe said that the fundraising page was removed by the platform following reports of Hopkins recanting his claims. "Your donations are going to help me in the case I am wrongfully terminated from my job or I am forced into resigning due to ostrizization [sic] by my co-workers," the page stated. "It will help me get a new start in a place I feel safe and help me with child support until I am able to get settled and get a job."


An official familiar with the investigation said that Hopkins was escorted out of his workplace on Monday afternoon and told not to return until the probe was completed. A LinkedIn profile matching Hopkins's name and other biographical details says he served in the Marine Corps from 2007 to 2012 before trying out numerous other jobs for short periods of time. He is believed to have been a nurse's aide and an employee at a fracking company in Texas prior to becoming a letter carrier in Erie in August 2018.

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