A Pennsylvania postal worker who levied unfounded allegations of voter fraud recanted his statement with federal officials even as he continued to publicly cast doubt on the U.S. presidential election results.
Richard Hopkins claimed last week that a postmaster in Erie had instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day. (Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania were only eligible if postmarked by Election Day.)
President-elect Joe Biden was declared the victor in the state on Saturday, which put him over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But President Donald Trump and his Republican allies continue to falsely claim that Trump won the election. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) cited Hopkins’ allegation in a letter to Attorney General William Barr, who took the unusual step of authorizing U.S. attorneys to look into voter fraud allegations prior to their state’s certification of the election results. Hours after Barr’s announcement, the Justice Department’s top official overseeing voter fraud investigations resigned.
On Tuesday, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee said Hopkins had signed a sworn affidavit recanting his allegations. The Washington Post’s report on the affidavit also cited three officials briefed on the investigation.
Hopkins’ allegations were originally brought into the spotlight by Project Veritas, a far-right disinformation outlet with a history of peddling lies that go viral. Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe called Hopkins an “American hero” and a GoFundMe page set up for Hopkins raised nearly $130,000 before it was pulled down.
On Sunday, Erie postmaster Rob Weisenbach called Hopkins’ allegations “100% false.”
“There has 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,” Weisenbach said in a statement. Hopkins is currently not working at the post office while an investigation is conducted.
Despite the reports that he’d recanted his allegations, Hopkins told Project Veritas in a video posted online Tuesday night that none of that was true and that he was sticking to his original story. That got the attention of Trump.
“A brave patriot. More & more people are stepping forward to expose this Rigged Election!” the president, who has offered no evidence of widespread voter fraud, tweeted Tuesday night.
Project Veritas and Hopkins also shared what they said was secretly recorded audio of a conversation between Hopkins and federal agents. That could spell more trouble for Hopkins, given that Pennsylvania requires two-party consent to record conversations.
Trump and his campaign have filed several lawsuits alleging voter fraud and unfair election procedures, in a strategy that appears to be little more than throwing something at the wall to see what sticks.
“You can’t go to court just because you don’t like the vote totals,” Ohio State election law professor Ned Foley told MSNBC on Saturday. “You have to have a legal claim, and you have to have evidence to back it up. And that’s just not there.”
Election officials of both parties in at least 45 states said there was “no evidence that fraud or other irregularities played a role in the outcome of the presidential race,” The New York Times reported Tuesday.