GOP elector voting against Donald Trump faces smear campaign over 9/11 first-responder claim

Charges that Texas elector Christopher Suprun lied about his 9/11 service appear untrue, but threats pour in

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 16, 2016 11:25PM (EST)

 (YouTube/Democracy Now)
(YouTube/Democracy Now)

Christopher Suprun of Texas, who remains the only Republican elector to publicly join the Hamilton Electors and announce that he will not vote for Donald Trump on Dec. 19, is facing a smear campaign that he believes emanates from the president-elect.

Suprun has said he was a first responder during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and has now been accused of falsifying that claim. Those accusations, however, revolve around evidence that Suprun was not in New York during or after 9/11, when he has never claimed he was. Suprun says he responded to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon as a volunteer firefighter in northern Virginia. Salon has confirmed that Suprun worked at various Virginia fire departments between 1994 and about 2004.

On Friday, an ABC affiliate in Dallas ran a story suggesting that Suprun was lying about his 9/11 service:

The Republican elector who has gotten national attention for refusing to vote for Donald Trump at the Electoral College on Dec. 19 was apparently not a first responder on September 11, 2001 as he has stated for years and has a questionable career history, according to an investigation by WFAA.

Suprun believes these malicious reports are part of a smear campaign orchestrated against him by a worried Trump team.

"We've got multiple reports of them threatening other electors, saying 'You're not going to have a political future,'" Suprun told Salon in an interview. "I'm not really sure why anybody else would come after me this hard, this fast, and with a bunch of make-believe in a lot of cases."

Suprun told Salon that he started as a volunteer in the Annandale Fire Department in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1994, and was working as a volunteer in nearby Dale City, Virginia, at the time of the 9/11 attacks. He later became a professional firefighter in Manassas Park, Virginia, he says, before moving to Texas in 2004.

Suprun expressed dismay at the fact that "fully grown adults who support Donald Trump spend their nights bullying children," saying that this "should be a red flag to all Americans about this man and his followers."

"Since before my announcement, I've had people attacking me and threatening me, as you might have seen on my Twitter feed," Suprun told Salon in an interview. "My wife and daughters were threatened with rape with a knife, before they kill me, if I didn't vote for Trump."

It isn't just Trump's followers, however, that Hamilton Electors see as the problem,.

"Trump is scared because he had the RNC [Republican National Committee] run a historically unprecedented whip count of Electors to make sure they have the votes on Dec. 19 when the Electoral College officially meets at statehouses across the country," said Bret Chiafalo, a Democratic elector from Washington. "With allegations of Russia hacking our democracy and his picks for a potential administration, Americans of all political stripes are waking up to the fact that this man is a reality TV show starlet that is completely unprepared to be president."

Michael Baca, a Democratic elector from Colorado, echoed these thoughts in the press release.

"When I enlisted in the Marine Corps, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution and the American people against all enemies, foreign and domestic," said Baca. "On Dec. 19 and every day after, I'll continue to stand beside fellow patriotic Electors who are committed to doing their Constitutional duty, like Chris Suprun, who is a brave and honorable man."

Siprun said that Trump supporters have bullied his children online and accused him of lying about his service as a firefighter during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

As Salon reported earlier on Friday, if the allegations that the Trump campaign is pressuring the Hamilton Electors into sticking by him are true, legal experts believe those actions would also be illegal.

Sources close to the Hamilton Electors believe there are anywhere from 16 to 28 other potential Republican defectors.

Update: On Saturday morning the Dale City Fire Department released a statement saying, "In response to an inquiry from the press regarding the membership status of Christopher Suprun, the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department can confirm Mr. Suprun was an active member in good standing from July, 2000 through June 2002.  

 "The official station records confirm no Dale City Volunteer Fire Department members were on duty from 6:00am to 6:00pm on September 11, 2001.  Therefore, no members of the department were involved in the initial response to the attack on the Pentagon in their capacity as a member of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department.  However, members of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department were part of the operation from 1800 hours on September 11th, 2001 until released by the Incident Commander.  In addition, members of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department were involved in the initial response on the Pentagon in their capacities as public safety officials with other organizations.  However, the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department has no records upon which it may rely on to confirm or deny the times of service or specific nature of the involvement of these members."




By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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