It looks like the Republican party’s smoking gun in its quest to prove widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election is quickly falling apart. On Monday, the Pennsylvania postal worker who claimed to witness voter fraud — and whose testimony the entire GOP's allegations hinged on — confessed to the U.S. Postal Service investigators that he fabricated the whole thing. But now, the story has gotten even more complicated.
But first, let's start at the beginning. According to the now-recanted claim, a postal worker named Richard Hopkins alleged that a postmaster in Erie, Pennsylvania told postal workers to backdate ballots mailed in after election day. The allegations were first aired last week by Project Veritas without Hopkins’ name. It should be noted that the organization is known for using deceptive tactics, such as misleading edits and fabricated quotes, all in the name of exposing bias and corruption in the mainstream media. It wasn’t until late last week that Hopkins agreed to come forward as the so-called Pennsylvania whistleblower when he swore to his statement and even signed an affidavit.
But with Hopkins' claim, the Trump campaign immediately proceeded to send the "evidence" to Sen. Lindsey Graham, who cited it as clear voter fraud in a letter to the Justice Department and demanded a federal investigation. In response, Attorney General William Barr reversed a long-standing Justice Department policy and authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voter fraud before the election results are certified. Hopkins’ affidavit was also referenced in a federal lawsuit filed this week against Pennsylvania election officials to prevent them from certifying the states’ election results.
Things then took a sharp turn: According to investigators from the USPS’s Office of Inspector General who interviewed Hopkins on Friday, the postal worker said that his original allegations were all a lie. He signed a new affidavit saying that he was taking his original statement back and Congress was informed in a briefing on Tuesday. Late Tuesday night, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee tweeted that the “whistleblower completely RECANTED.”
When the news broke that Hopkins recanted, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh argued that Hopkins may have taken it back involuntarily. Hopkins “filed a very detailed affidavit. He named names,” Murtaugh said. “He described explicitly what it is that he experienced.”
Then, things got even messier. In a YouTube video posted on Tuesday night, Hopkins denied recanting his original story. “I’m here to say I did not recant my statements. That did not happen,” he says in the video. Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, who hailed Hopkins as “an American hero,” shared the video on Twitter accusing journalists at the Washington Post of falling for lies from federal agents. O’Keefe also suggested that Hopkins was coerced into watering down his allegations. This morning, Donald Trump shared the news of Hopkins on Twitter saying that he “stays with the truth, his original story.”
So, in the eyes of any potentially wavering Trump supporters, the case may appear to be right back where it started. But the entire time, Erie postmaster Rob Weisenbach has denied Hopkins’ allegations calling them “100% false” in a Facebook post. Weisenbach added that these claims were made “by an employee that was recently disciplined multiple times,” implying that perhaps Hopkins’ actions were motivated. “The Erie Post Office did not back date any ballots,” Weisenbach insisted.
No matter the truth — or lack of — behind Hopkins' testimonies, one thing is clear: he is probably not a trustworthy source intended to derail an entire country's democratic system. Hopkins may have recanted, then un-recanted, then been accused of having motive to make his statement in the first place, which is what nearly anyone with a pulse would consider an 'unreliable source."
It's also obvious that the second reversal comes conveniently as Trump continues to refuse to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. He and his campaign still cite unproven allegations about widespread voter fraud in the hopes to somehow move the results in his favor. Trump swears he will not back down even if this is his strongest piece of evidence, and lawsuits will continue to be shut down due to a lack of proof. It’s just a matter of how long it will take for Trump and his supporters to stop seeing what they want to see and look at what is proven or disproven with evidence.