Marine Veteran & USPS Whistleblower Richard Hopkins Stands By His Original Account: I Did Not Recant; Hopkins Describes More Than Three Hours Kept in Room Without Lawyer or Union Rep With Post Office Agents: ‘They Were Grilling the Hell Out of Me…I Feel Like I Just Got Played’
[WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N. Y.—Nov. 11, 2020] The Erie, Pennsylvania post office whistleblower confirmed his original account of late ballots postmarked retroactive to Nov. 3, Election Day, at his post office, in an exclusive interview with Project Veritas founder and CEO James O’Keefe.
“They were grilling the hell out of me,” said Richard Hopkins to O’Keefe. “I feel like I just got played.”
O’Keefe said Hopkins’ experience would have a chilling effect on government accountability and the willingness of whistleblowers to come forward.
“Richard Hopkins is a hero,” O’Keefe said.
“He was a hero serving in combat with the Marines, and he is a hero for coming forward with this very serious allegation of late ballots in Pennsylvania being postmarked for Election Day,” he said.
Hopkins said coming forward was his duty as veteran
Hopkins told O’Keefe he did not recant his account and he stands by it, especially as he thinks about his own service and what it means to him to be a veteran.
James O’Keefe: “There's a lot of veterans watching this who served overseas. And there's a lot of people who are calling you a hero. If you could just sort of speak to the issue of--I mean, you're, you seem like a very normal guy who never asked for any of this--and you're a veteran and a lot of people are calling you a hero for blowing the whistle on something very serious.”
Postal Whistleblower Richard Hopkins: “I'm just doing my duty and just--I honestly made an oath when I joined the Marine Corps from the get-go and as most military guys say, it's a blank check. We never give up that check. We're going to protect our country and our Constitution until the day we die. That's the point where that check is cashed in. And I've given that check and my heart to this country.”
“No one should be treated the way Hopkins was treated by people claiming they wanted to protect him,” O’Keefe said. “He did not recant his story. He affirmed it and stands by it—despite the incredible pressure for him to call himself a liar.”
Hopkins, a Marine combat veteran of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, told O’Keefe that Russell Strasser, an agent with the U.S. Postal Service based in New York City, kept him in a room for more than three hours for an intense interrogation regarding his account.
Post Office Inspector General Agent Russell Strasser bullied, coerced Hopkins
“OK, this storm is getting crazy, right? It's out of a lot of people's control, and so the reason they called me in is to try to harness that storm, try to reel it back in before it gets really crazy,” said Strasser. “We have senators involved. We have the Department of Justice involved.”
Strasser presented himself as a friend and fellow veteran looking to protect him, Hopkins said.
“I’m not while I am, actually, I am trying to twist you a little bit because in that believe it or not, your mind will kick in,” Strasser said to Hopkins. “We like to control our mind and when we do that, we can convince ourselves of a memory, but when you're under a little bit of stress, which is what I'm doing to you purposely, your mind can be a little bit clear.”
Hopkins said he told Strasser that Project Veritas retained lawyers for him, but Strasser told him that did not count. There was also no union representative present.
The postal service inspector general agent told Hopkins that part of his job of protecting him was to “shave” his memory of what he heard.
Strasser also told Hopkins that he would be accused of raising the more than $130,000 donated on his GoFundMe page with deception unless he allowed Strasser to protect him.
The IG agent said the best way to protect him was to have Hopkins sign an “updated” statement that undercut his original account.
Shortly after he signed the Strasser statement, Hopkins was put on administrative leave without pay, Hopkins said.
Although, he asked for a copy of his new statement, Strasser told him he could not have one, because it was part of an ongoing investigation, he said.
Tuesday, House Democrats released the statement to the media.
Hopkins original account
Hopkins swore in an affidavit that Nov. 4 he overheard his postmaster rebuking a supervisor for failing to postmark a late ballot Nov. 3, Election Day. He said he was standing close to the two men, but they could not see him standing there, because he was still sorting mail for his route behind bins.
“A lot of the stuff that's going on behind the scenes, like what I'm talking about them doing at the PO [post office],” he said. “I don't think--I wasn't supposed to hear that--I was one of the last carriers in the building. I don't even think he realized I was still there; you know what I'm saying? Backdating.”
Hopkins said he heard about the backdating, as he was preparing his mail for delivery, and he saw the Postmaster Rob Weisenbach with Darrell Locke, one of the supervisors.
“I was casing my route and I saw the postmaster pull one of our supervisors to the side,” he said. “He was pulling the supervisor, it was - and it was really close to where my case was—so, I was able to hear, listen in and I heard him say to the supervisor that they messed up yesterday.”
The whistleblower said he was curious about what was messed up.
“He told the supervisor they had postmarked one of the ballots for the fourth, instead of the third, because they were supposed to put them for third,” he said.
Strasser, who said he was there to investigate Hopkins account, focused instead on convincing Hopkins his account was flawed. “We're going to do a different exercise to, to make your mind a little bit clear. So--but this is all on purpose.”
James O’Keefe: “You heard Weisenbach tell a supervisor, they were backdating the ballots to make it appear they'd been collected Nov. 3, you still stand by that?”
Postal Whistleblower Richard Hopkins: “Yeah, yes.”
Strasser tried to undermine Hopkins’ confidence in Project Veritas
Hopkins said Strasser also tried to make him distrust Project Veritas.
“It seems like they were trying to make me distrust y'all and at the same time it kind of affected,” he said. “But at the same time, I was like, no, these guys [Project Veritas] have had my back since the get-go.”
Despite his misgivings, he was still convinced Strasser was there to investigate his account, so he continued to speak with him.
James O’Keefe: “Did these federal agents have your back at this point, do you think these federal agents are really interested in investigating fraud?”
Postal Whistleblower Richard Hopkins: “Honestly, I don't think they are.”
Hopkins told O’Keefe he wants other whistleblowers to come forward and to trust Project Veritas. “I will give it you guys that you guys have been helpful in this whole entire thing.”
The Marine combat veteran said the integrity of the election and our democracy depends on people speaking up when they see wrongdoing.
“Anybody out there who sees something or feels like there was something janky going on with this election to include postal workers that were picking up ballots and giving them to supervisors, you should come out,” he said.
“I don't care who wins this election--I really don't--I'm going to laugh if we ended up electing Biden. I'm going to laugh if we elect Trump,” he said. “But the end goal is that it's a fair and correctly done election--and that's all I care about.”
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