House Oversight Committee Republicans called Friday on the U.S. Postal Service inspector general to produce documents related to Pennsylvania ballot-fraud claims, accusing Democrats of seeking to discredit a whistleblower before the investigation had been completed.
Republican Reps. James Comer and Jody Hice said that in a “highly unusual” move, the USPS deputy inspector general briefed committee staffers Tuesday about the ongoing investigation, telling them that postal worker Richard Hopkins had recanted his previous statement about possible backdating of ballots.
House Oversight Democrats trumpeted the news that night on Twitter. Mr. Hopkins, who first made his claims last week to Project Veritas, promptly denied that he had retracted his statement.
“Democrats turned a blind eye to Adam Schiff’s fake whistleblower during the impeachment scam but have quickly dismissed those pertaining to election integrity before all the facts are discovered,” Mr. Comer, the ranking committee member, said in a statement.
“There is public confusion about these allegations and the Office of the Inspector General owes the American people and Congress an explanation for their actions surrounding Richard Hopkins’ USPS whistleblower complaint,” he said.
The Republicans compared the treatment of Mr. Hopkins to that of the unnamed whistleblower who said last year that President Trump had pressured the Ukrainian president on a phone call into investigating former Vice President Joseph R. Biden. The whistleblower was not in the room when the call occurred.
“This was a surprising tactic — undermining an apparent whistleblower before all the facts have been discovered — and in stark contrast to both the insistence of Democrats and the media last year that Adam Schiff’s whistleblower, who had no first-hand knowledge of any events, be trusted regarding the President’s impeachment,” said the Friday letter. “It seems Democrats and the media only give deference to whistleblowers whose allegations support their own narrative.”
JUST NOW RM @RepJamesComer and Gov Ops RM @CongressmanHice wrote to the @OIGUSPS regarding the handling of a whistleblower complaint, which unearthed allegations of backdating mail-in ballots and the unusual decision to disclose information during an ongoing investigation. pic.twitter.com/cswW7heO1R— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) November 13, 2020
Mr. Hopkins came forward last week — at first anonymously, then publicly — to allege that mail carriers at his office had been instructed to collect and turn in ballots received after the Nov. 3 election, and that he heard Erie Postmaster Robert Weisenbach talking to a supervisor about backdating ballots.
Mr. Weisenbach said on Facebook that the “allegations made against me and the Erie Post Office are 100% false,” the Erie Times-News reported.
Mr. Hopkins later executed an affidavit that was forwarded Nov. 6 by the Trump campaign to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who said Saturday he would investigate “all credible allegations of voting irregularities and misconduct.”
Mr. Comer, ranking committee member, and Mr. Hice, ranking member on the government operations subcommittee, asked Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb to produce all notes, materials, emails and documents no later than 5 p.m. Monday.
The committee has not produced the affidavit signed by Mr. Hopkins, but he wore a wire for two hours during a Monday interrogation in which a USPS Office of Inspector General agent suggested that he could be in trouble for embellishing his story and urging him to scale back his claims to “the barest truth.”
“I am not — or I am, actually — I am trying to twist you a little bit because in that, believe it or not, your mind will kick in,” said the agent, identified by Project Veritas as Richard Strasser, on the audio.
In their letter, the Republicans said that the audio showed the two agents “pressuring” Mr. Hopkins.
“In Hopkins’ new statement, as documented in the recording and apparently amended with the assistance of the OIG agents, he did not witness any explicitly illicit activities — a story more favorable to Democrats and the news media’s broad dismissal of the public’s valid concerns about the integrity of mass mail-in voting,” the letter said.
“As a result, we need to obtain a fuller understanding of your current investigation,” the Republicans said.
Public information officer Agapi Doulaveris said this week that the USPS OIG “does not comment on ongoing matters.”
“Our elections are of pivotal importance to our country, and a potential disruption of our elections must be thoroughly and accurately investigated and follow all proper procedures,” Mr. Comer said. “American citizens deserve absolute transparency surrounding our electoral process and any potential flaws or issues in the system.”
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