As reports of election fraud mount, a 2-hour recording released Nov. 11 reveals how federal agents allegedly used threats against a Pennsylvania postal worker in an attempt to have him recant his report that colleagues were illegally backdating absentee ballots.
The whistleblower, Richard Hopkins, was a United States Postal Service (USPS) employee who made headlines when he signed an affidavit on Nov. 6 testifying that his superior, Rob Weisenbach, had discussed backdated the postmarks on late ballots arriving in Erie, Pennsylvania, to Nov. 3 so they could be counted for the U.S. presidential election.
A later report by The Washington Post claimed he had walked back his eyewitness account of ballot fraud in the critical swing state.
Under U.S. law, mailed ballots must be postmarked by 8 p.m. by Election Day to be considered valid.
In the evening of Nov. 10, James O’Keefe, founder of the nonprofit news organization Project Veritas, released a short video in which Hopkins refutes the Post’s story, saying that he had not in fact recanted his allegations of election fraud.
“I am, right at this very moment, looking at an article written by Washington Post. Says that I fabricated the allegations of ballot tampering,” Hopkins said. “I’m here to say that I did not recant my statements. That did not happen. That is not what happened.”
‘Believe it or not, your mind will kick in’
Project Veritas followed up the next day with a recording of Hopkins’ interrogation by agents from the USPS Office of Inspector General, showing them trying to intimidate him into denying his allegations.
Speaking face-to-face with Hopkins on Nov. 9, Agent Russell Strasser told him: “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 swarm, try to reel it back in before it gets really crazy.”
The agent admitted he was making Hopkins uncomfortable, continuing: “I am scaring you here. OK. If we are not 1,000 percent accurate with our honesty and it can be argued that money was gained by, I’m going to say assumptions. They’re going to say deceptions.”
“We have senators involved. We have the Department of Justice involved,” Strasser said, while reassuring Hopkins that he wanted to “take care” of him. “You believe me on that. I mean, because that’s why I’m here. There we go. OK?”
“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 continued.
“We like to control our mind. And when we do that, we can convince ourselves of a memory. 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 clearer and we’re going to do a different exercise too, to make your mind a little bit clearer.”
Hopkins responded to Strasser by saying that Trump’s lawyers had been contacting him as well.
Intimidation, not investigation
“What we are seeing here is not an investigation into voter fraud,” O’Keefe said of the revelations. “This is plain and simple witness intimidation, and something must be done to prevent anyone from ever going through what Richard Hopkins has been put through.”
Conservative media outlet Gateway Pundit described the “tactics used to coerce and intimidate the USPS whistleblower” as “chilling” and “something you would see in a Communist country.”
According to O’Keefe, Hopkins has been suspended without pay from the local post office.
A fundraiser started in Hopkins’ name on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe gathered more than $130,000 before being removed.
“My name is Richard Hopkins and I currently work for the United States Postal Service in Erie, Pennsylvania,” the fundraiser text read, “and I am willing to testify under oath that 2020 Presidential Election ballots are being backdated to November 3rd by my supervisors. I made the difficult decision to risk everything in my life to come forward with this information of extreme wrongdoing by the Post Office. I am uncertain of what the future holds for me but I felt the public had a right to know what is really going on.”
“The Post Office has already been threatening my employment. I am scared for myself, my family, and those closest to me,” the text continues.
Agent Strasser’s Twitter account shows him to be a Biden supporter who frequently posts anti-Trump content, as detailed by the Gateway Pundit.
Many media outlets have called the election for Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president and Democratic candidate challenging Republican incumbent Donald Trump. Both candidates have declared themselves the winner.
In a tweet posted in the afternoon of Nov. 11, O’Keefe called the threats made to Hopkins “an embarrassment to the badge,” while noting that Strasser had deleted all of his photos on Twitter after the threat recording was made public.
Democrat officials tweeted that Hopkins withdrew his allegations.
The Democratic-dominated House Oversight Committee of the House of Representatives (Oversight Committee of House) on Tuesday sent out three tweets in a row, claiming that, according to the USPS Office of Inspector General, Hopkins had withdrawn his allegations on Nov. 9, the day of his hours-long interrogation.
A few hours later, the Washington Post published an article titled “Postal worker recanted allegations of ballot tampering, officials say,” citing anonymous sources.
The Post also quoted a Facebook post by Weisenbach, the Erie postmaster, as saying that Hopkins’ allegations were false. “The Erie Post Office did not back date any ballots,” Weisenbach wrote.
Trump attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy W. Giuliani retweeted the exposed recording on Tuesday, writing, “What are Postal Agents doing trying to ‘twist’ a witness. Or trying to scare him. It’s all on tape. Will someone find out who Agent Strasser is working for?”
Many outlets have repeated the Post’s claim that Hopkins had recanted his story.
“I would like that The Washington Post recant their wonderful little article that they decided to throw out there at random,” Hopkins said in the Nov. 10 video.
Later reports by media outlets said that even if some ballots had been backdated, they alone would not have been sufficient to change the outcome of the election. A report by local media claimed that just two ballots were backdated at the Erie facility where Hopkins worked.
The election could be decided in Pennsylvania: newest updates
The biggest controversy in the Pennsylvania election center on allegations of illegal extensions of local ballot counting. The Trump team has filed a request with the Supreme Court to overturn the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to extend the deadline for mail-in ballots by three days. To date, the attorneys-general of 12 states have signed a joint letter to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s actions violated the U.S. Constitution.
On Nov. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Pennsylvania election officials to separate ballots received after 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 and between 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 from ballots received earlier for separate processing, a move the Trump team sees as an initial victory in its legal challenge to the claimed Biden victory.
Trump’s legal team on Nov. 9 filed a legal case against Pennsylvania for election fraud. Giuliani says the team has a large enough body of evidence to flip the state’s 20 electoral votes.
Currently, excluding the states with pending recounts and open litigation, Trump leads in the race with 232 electoral votes to Biden’s 227. Two hundred seventy electoral votes are needed to win.