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Video reveals that right-wing activist coached ‘USPS whistleblower’

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  • USPS employee Richard Hopkins was coached by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe as he made his affidavit alleging mail-in ballot fraud, video obtained by Business Insider reveals.
  • Hopkins, who says he voted for Donald Trump, claimed he had overheard supervisors in Erie, Pennsylvania discuss backdating mail-in ballots.
  • That claim was seemingly legitimized by an affidavit that Hopkins signed, obtained through an online notary service, and later cited in litigation by the Trump campaign.
  • Video of Hopkins’ declaration — provided by the notary to Business Insider — shows that Hopkins was not alone when making the affidavit, but joined by O’Keefe.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A self-styled US Postal Service whistleblower who claimed mail-in ballots were being backdated was in the same room as a man who appears to be right-wing activist James O’Keefe when he formalized his accusations in an affidavit, as captured in video obtained by Business Insider.

“This is crazy,” the man, Richard Hopkins, says in the video after raising his right hand and swearing the statements in his Nov. 6 affidavit are true.

Another man can be seen on his phone, lurking in the background. He can also be heard earlier in the video consenting to the teleconference being recorded, telling the notary that “we have someone on the line;” a third man’s voice can then be heard agreeing to the recording.

Jammy Kiggundu, a lawyer representing the notary Hopkins employed, said that the “other persons’ identities were not known.” He provided the video to Business Insider, he said, after consulting with Texas’ Secretary of State.

The video highlights how it took a team to turn an allegedly overheard comment in the workplace — one about a single ballot being postmarked a day after the election — into an inflammatory charge of voter fraud that has been amplified by Donald Trump and other leading members of the Republican Party.

Texas, where the notary resides, legalized online affidavits in 2017. Under state law, notaries are required to store recordings of “any video or audio conference” that takes place to verify the identity of the person or persons making an affidavit. This recording is saved for a minimum of five years.

In his affidavit, Hopkins, a USPS employee, asserts that he heard a supervisor say he “was back-dating the postmarks on the [mail-in] ballots to make it appear as though the ballots had been collected on November 3.”

After the claim was publicized by Project Veritas, it was then cited by US Sen. Lindsey Graham, who requested a federal investigation, and in a lawsuit by the Trump campaign. “A brave patriot,” the president himself said on Twitter.

Hopkins walked back his claim in an interview with USPS investigators, conceding that he only heard supervisors discussing the fact that one ballot picked up on Nov. 3 was postmarked Nov. 4, a day after the election. “My mind probably added the rest,” he said, admitting he never heard any discussion of changing the date. (“I voted for Trump and I’m a libertarian,” he added later.)

Hopkins also said that the dramatic conclusions he reached in the affidavit were the product of Project Veritas’ influence.

“I was in so much shock — I wasn’t paying that much attention to what they were telling me,” he said of the affidavit, which was obtained through an online service that routed him to a notary in Texas.

Project Veritas, which did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment, has denied coaching Hopkins. Last week, a spokesperson for Project Veritas told Salon.com that while the conservative activist group provided Hopkins a “starter text,” he revised it and was responsible for the final copy.

“Hopkins was the author of the affidavit,” the spokesperson said.

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