USPS Worker Cries Vote Fraud, Recants, Recants Recantation. Must Be Project Veritas!
A postal worker found himself the darling of the Right last week after he told a very disturbing story, claiming that he'd overheard the postmaster of Erie, Pennsylvania, tell another postal worker that mail-in ballots received the day after the election would have their postmarks backdated so they could be counted. The postal worker, Richard Hopkins, told his story to
Laura Ingraham the manipulated-video factory Project Veritas (Latin for "every day is Opposite Day"), and it soon became wingnuts' newest flavor sensation! Sen. Lindsey Graham was so impressed that he cited Hopkins's story in a letter to the Justice Department calling for an investigation of the outrageous frauding.
Except oops, The Washington Post reports that on Monday, Hopkins
told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General that the allegations were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation.
In addition, the House Oversight Committee tweeted that the would-be whistleblower had recanted his claims after being questioned by the Inspector General for the USPS:
#USPS IG investigators informed Committee staff today that they interviewed Hopkins on Friday, but that Hopkins REC… https://t.co/Sd2utXmPGA— Oversight Committee (@Oversight Committee)1605046967.0
Then, just to make clear that he's the most credible guy ever, Hopkins recanted his recantation, telling Project Vanitas blunderkind James O'Keefe that he'd been bullied by the investigators and now he totally stands by his first affidavit that he recanted in his second sworn affidavit.
At least one good thing has come out of all this: The Post reports that GoFundMe has pulled a crowdsourcing campaign that had raised $136,000 for the brand new rightwing hero, and that not a cent had gone to Hopkins.
In his initial story, Hopkins claimed he'd heard Erie Postmaster Rob Weisenbach tell a supervisor that Weisenbach was backdating any ballots picked up after Election night, so they would be postmarked November 3 and be eligible to be counted. In the supposed conversation, Weisenbach admitted to the supervisor that he'd actually "messed up" and dated one of the ballots November 4, but just the one. Hopkins also claimed that Weisenbach had ordered all postal carriers to "continue picking up ballots after November 3 despite the requirement that ballots be mailed by then," which seems weird in itself, because it seems to imply Hopkins thinks postal workers should have discretion to not pick up some pieces of mail. More damningly, Hopkins claimed Wesenbach wanted all ballots picked up by Friday, November 6, to be handed over to him, presumably so he or the supervisor could backdate them.
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 back date any ballots,
Well of course the Deep State is going to lie about that. The Postal Service's IG office told the Post yesterday that the incident was still being investigated. An unnamed "official familiar with the probe" told the Post that Hopkins had been escorted out of his workplace Monday and told he couldn't come back until the investigation was complete.
By Thursday evening, though, O'Keefe was back on Twitter with a new video in which Hopkins insisted he'd been coerced into recanting the story, with supposed audio of his questioning by Postal Service investigators. He told O'Keefe, "They were grilling the hell out of me. [....] I'm kind of pissed. I feel like I just got played." Damned if we're going to embed it because it's Project Vomitus.
Still, the story caught the eye of the most important person in O'Keefe's audience, Donald Trump, who knows a thing or two about changing stories multiple times in the course of a day or two.
The linked Washington Times story calls Project Veritas an "investigative news organization," so you can tell its reporters have thoroughly vetted O'Keefe's claims.
The whole thing sounds pretty unlikely, and we'd point out that in mere reality, Pennsylvania counties have sequestered out all absentee ballots that were mailed by November 3 but arrived after polls closed. Late-arriving ballots, while legal under Pennsylvania law, weren't included in the state's official count because of the chance they might be challenged in court later. So even in the unlikely case any of Hopkins's story is true, the ballots had no effect on the election outcome.
The Times News notes that, out of more than 136,000 Erie County ballots of all types in last week's elections, only 135 arrived after Election Day, with a nearly-equal split in votes for Trump and for Joe Biden — and again, they were not included in the total vote.
Nonetheless, the entire sad fuck-tussle has already become part of the rightwing narrative that 2020 was filled with fraud. And O'Keefe, never one to miss a chance for publicity, is now offering a "$25,000 reward" for "first hand election fraud tips in Pennsylvania." We can hardly wait to see what very credible witnesses come forward. Perhaps someone can beat Hopkins's record of two recantations!
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