Shocking: The U.S. feds have determined that the Donald Trump-loving Pennsylvania mail carrier that made over $US236,000 ($302,788) on a Christian crowdfunding platform after claiming to have overheard a U.S. Postal Service plot to steal the state for Joe Biden made it all up.
Richard Hopkins, a USPS employee in Erie, claimed in a sworn affidavit shortly after the elections that he had listened to the local postmaster discuss plans to backdate ballots received after Nov. 3 so they would be counted by election officials. His account was relayed via Project Veritas, a malicious group of right-wing hoaxsters that stages dramatic stings of supposed liberal corruption, and whose gullible following is an endless source of easy marks: Hopkins ran a page on Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo claiming “my employer has already been threatening my employment and trying to silence me” that has nearly hit its goal of $US250,000 ($320,750).
Trump and his Republican allies in Congress and the media had spent months preemptively laying the groundwork for the lie that the election was stolen. The president tweeted Hopkins was a “brave patriot,” while GOP Senator Lindsey Graham cited the mail carrier’s account in a letter to then-Attorney General Bill Barr demanding an investigation. Conservative media prostrated itself to cover Hopkins’ claims with glowing language; trash publication the Washington Times, for example, described him as “uneasy, unbowed in election whistleblower role,” while the New York Post called his account “explosive” and claimed he was being harassed by USPS brass and the FBI. Hopkins’ was one of the many conspiracy theories floating around the right-wing internet before pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol on Jan 6., resulting in at least five deaths.
In the final findings on the Hopkins matter written in February and first reported by the blog 21st Century Postal Worker this week, the USPS Inspector General’s office reached much a different conclusion. Namely, that Hopkins was privy to exactly zero election-related plots, and his excuse, when pressed by special agents, was that he had simply “assumed” such fraud-related conversations did occur. Per the report:
To substantiate [the] allegations, OIG Special Agents interviewed [Hopkins] on two occasions. During the second interview, [Hopkins] revised his initial claims, eventually stating that he had not heard a conversation about ballots at all — rather he saw the Postmaster and Supervisor having a discussion and assumed it was about fraudulent ballot backdating. [Hopkins] acknowledged that he had no evidence of any backdated presidential ballots and could not recall any specific words said by the Postmaster or Supervisor.
The Inspector General’s office wrote that Hopkins also announced to interviewing agents at the conclusion of their discussion “that he had covertly recorded the interview with OIG Special Agents without their consent in violation of Employee and Labour Relations Manual Section 667.21.”
A-ha! Got ‘em. The report noted that one of the agents (perhaps trying to stifle a fit of giggling) responded they had no problem with being recorded. Inspectors subsequently confirmed there was no evidence whatsoever that ballots had been backdated.
As the Washington Post noted, shortly after Project Veritas had begun promoting Hopkins’ claims, the postmaster of Erie, Robert Weisenbach, posted to Facebook that the story was “100% false” and “made by an employee that was recently disciplined multiple times.” According to the Post, a source confirmed at least one thing Hopkins had said — his job is very much on the line, as he’s been suspended without pay since Nov. 10.
Hopkins’ clever decision to record the meeting has since backfired. Hopkins issued a statement to the Post via Project Veritas saying the USPS OIG report was “vague and deceptive” and “I wish I hadn’t stopped recording.” The statement also claimed the agents “coerced and twisted Hopkins to water down his allegations.” But the mail carrier apparently provided no new evidence whatsoever to back those claims to the paper, which wrote that the recordings clearly contradict the claim the recantation was forced out of him and depict agents informing him no arrest was being carried out at that time and his participation was voluntary.
The recordings of the meeting also showed that Hopkins attempted to throw Project Veritas under the bus, telling investigators the affidavit bearing his name was in fact penned by the group and at the time of its composure he was experiencing “so much shock” that he “wasn’t paying that much attention to what they were telling me.”
Trump lost the state of Pennsylvania to Biden by over 81,000 votes. None of the numerous accounts of voter fraud advanced by Trump, his legal team, or the various hacks and con artists that support him have panned out.
According to Slate, Project Veritas’s founder, James O’Keefe, brought Hopkins on stage at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference during a speech that apparently occurred the same day (Feb. 26) as the release of the OIG report. (In January, a Bloomberg reporter witnessed O’Keefe riding an Amtrak Acela train from DC to New York while not wearing a mask and complaining to an unidentified compatriot over the phone that Project Veritas’s election stings were having no effect.)
What the future holds for our intrepid mail carrier remains to be seen, though a November 2020 report in Salon cited legal experts as saying he and Project Veritas could potentially be held liable for defamation or perjury if they were found to have lied in the affidavit.