A postal worker in Pennsylvania has admitted to making up explosive accusations about mail-in voting irregularities in the 2020 election that were picked up by supporters of President Donald Trump as supposed evidence of fraud, according to congressional investigators.
Richard Hopkins, a U.S. Postal Service employee in Erie, Pa., first alleged last week that his supervisor had instructed staff to backdate mail-in ballots cast after Election Day in order to get them counted — which would be illegal.
The claims were seized on by the Trump campaign and congressional Republicans as proof that Trump had good reason not to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden — especially since Hopkins had signed a sworn affidavit to certify his allegations.
But Hopkins admitted to investigators from the U.S. Postal Service inspector general’s office on Monday that his allegations were false, according to the House Oversight Committee.
“IG investigators informed committee staff today that they interviewed Hopkins on Friday, but that Hopkins RECANTED HIS ALLEGATIONS yesterday and did not explain why he signed a false affidavit,” the Democrat-led committee tweeted late Tuesday.
The revelations come as Trump continues to refuse to acknowledge Biden’s victory, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the election.
Hopkins could not be reached for comment.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, suggested without evidence that Hopkins may have been forced to backpedal on his allegations.
“He described explicitly what it is that he experienced, and we don’t know what kind of pressure he has been under since he publicly made those statements, especially given the fact that our own lawyers were doxxed on Twitter today,” Murtaugh said.
The U.S. Postal Service inspector general began investigating Hopkins’ claims after they first emerged in a Friday report from Project Veritas, a far-right outlet with a history of peddling conspiracy theories and falsehoods.
The Trump campaign cited Hopkins’ accusations in a lawsuit filed Monday claiming Pennsylvania should not be allowed to certify its election results.
The Trump campaign also provided Hopkins’ affidavit to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who called on the Justice Department to launch an investigation.
After Graham’s call for a probe, Attorney General William Barr issued an unusual memo authorizing federal prosecutors across the country to investigate “substantial allegations” of voter fraud, even though no credible evidence has emerged to suggest illegal votes facilitated Biden’s victory.
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