Paul Pelosi, 82, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was attacked by a hammer-wielding assailant in their San Francisco home early Friday, sending shock waves across the political ecosystem amid fears of rising political violence.
Here’s what we know so far about the attack.
What is known about Paul Pelosi’s condition?
Paul Pelosi is being treated at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and was as of Saturday recovering from surgery to repair a “skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” according to a statement issued by Drew Hammill, spokesman for Nancy Pelosi.
Paul Pelosi was expected to make a full recovery, Hammill wrote.
Paul Pelosi was “struck at least one time” during the attack, San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told a news conference on Friday.
Speaker Pelosi issued a statement Monday saying her husband “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”
How did the attack at Nancy Pelosi’s home unfold?
San Francisco police say DePape forced entry to the Pelosi house via a rear door.
DePape was searching for Speaker Pelosi when he entered, said San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.
Police were dispatched at 2:27 a.m. Friday to a break-in at the Pelosi home, the police chief said, adding that police knocked on arrival and that the front door was opened “by someone inside.”
Officers saw the suspect struggling with Pelosi, with each man having “one hand on a single hammer.”
The officers, who were watching from outside the doorway, told both men to drop the hammer, at which point DePape “immediately pulled the hammer away” and “violently attacked” Pelosi with it, Scott said.
The officers then tackled and disarmed DePape and arrested him, while requesting paramedic and emergency backup.
DePape was also taken to the hospital, where he remained as of Friday evening.
What did DePape tell law enforcement?
A federal court filing published Monday details what DePape told authorities about his intent, along with what happened before, during and after the alleged attack.
As for the Friday attack, DePape was “prepared to detain and injure Speaker Pelosi when he entered the Pelosi residence,” according to a federal court filing.
Federal investigators said DePape had zip ties, a roll of tape, rope, a journal and the hammer with him that morning.
According to the filing, San Francisco police investigators recorded their interview with DePape, during which he said that Pelosi was “the ‘leader of the pack’ of lies told by the Democratic Party,” and that he planned to hold her hostage and break her kneecaps if she lied to him, which would “show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions.”
What charges will DePape face?
Federal prosecutors announced Monday that they plan to charge DePape. State prosecutors are expected to do the same, meaning DePape will face two parallel legal processes.
Federal investigators have charged DePape with assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official, according to court filings. The assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
A San Francisco Police Department officer had already responded when DePape allegedly struck Paul Pelosi with the hammer, according to the court filing.
District Attorney Jenkins announced Monday that DePape would also face the following state charges: attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder, threats to a public official and their family.
If convicted, Jenkins said, DePape would face between 13 years to a lifetime of incarceration.
Jenkins said she feels the evidence shows this was a politically motivated attack.
“He was looking for the Speaker at the time he entered the home,” she said.
When asked how the home of such a prominent person was so easy to access, Jenkins said: “There was no security present, and he was able to break the window to a glass door.”
Jenkins said her office will file a motion to detain DePape without bail at his arraignment hearing Tuesday. She said she expects DePape to appear in court Tuesday, which is when it’ll be clear whether he has hired legal representation.
How did Paul Pelosi call the police?
Police say Pelosi was able to call 911, but it seems he could not speak freely during the call.
Instead, Scott said, the dispatcher “was able to read between the lines” and “basically figured out that there was something more to this incident than what she was being told.”
“This was a well-being check and she just knew there was more to it. So she alerted — she went that extra step — and because of it, she dispatched it at a higher priority … that led to a quicker response,” he said.
Scott declined to give further details on what was said during the call, but praised the dispatcher’s “quick thinking” and “intuition.”
Jenkins said Pelosi tried to access the elevator in the house, which had a phone, but DePape blocked him. Then Pelosi told DePape he had to use the restroom, where his phone was charging.
DePape told police that he didn’t leave after Pelosi called 911 because “much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender,” according to the federal court filing.
Where was Nancy Pelosi during the attack?
Nancy Pelosi has been fundraising and campaigning with Democrats around the country ahead of the midterm elections. When the attack happened, she was in Washington, according to U.S. Capitol Police.
Last week, the speaker was in Croatia for a forum on Crimea and was in Washington on Tuesday to meet with the Israeli president. On Wednesday morning she was briefly in San Francisco for an event at the Golden Gate Bridge before returning to Washington.
What do we know about the alleged attacker, David DePape?
DePape, 42, lives in Richmond, Calif., about 11 miles from Pelosi’s home.
The federal court filing said he lived in the garage at a residence on Shasta Street in Richmond. Investigators seized two hammers and a sword along with a pair of rubber and cloth gloves from the garage Saturday, per the filing.
The Post confirmed that a voluminous blog written under DePape’s name and filled with deeply antisemitic writings and baseless claims — as well as pro-Trump and anti-Democratic posts — was registered in early August to an address where DePape lives, according to neighbors.
Many of the posts were filled with screeds against Jews, Black people, the media and transgender people. Others contained delusional thoughts, including one posted on Oct. 24 — four days before the attack — about an invisible fairy that had attacked an acquaintance and sometimes appeared to DePape in the form of a bird.
DePape’s stepfather, Gene DePape, said in an interview with CNN that DePape was estranged from his family and had grown up in Powell River, British Columbia, before leaving Canada decades ago for California.
A woman who identified herself as DePape’s 21-year-old daughter said that she was stunned by his arrest even though he was, she said, abusive to other members of the family. “I love my father,” Inti Gonzalez wrote in a Friday statement posted to her website, which was later removed. “He did genuinely try to be a good person but the monster in him was always too strong for him to be safe to be around.”
Who is Paul Pelosi?
Paul Pelosi, 82, owns Financial Leasing Services, a San Francisco-based real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm. He met his wife while studying at Georgetown University. She was a student at Trinity College, now Trinity Washington University, at the time. The Pelosis have been married for 59 years and have five children.
He was in the public spotlight in August after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence and causing injury, following a May car crash in Northern California.
The Pelosis live in the leafy Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, which boasts multimillion-dollar homes. They have faced other incidents there, including in 2021 when the house was spray-painted and a pig’s head left on the sidewalk — apparently in a protest aimed at Congress over insufficient coronavirus pandemic relief.
What reaction has there been?
President Biden has condemned the attack as “despicable,” saying there is “too much hatred, too much vitriol,” in American politics.
He told a fundraising dinner Friday night in Philadelphia that he had spoken to Nancy Pelosi directly, who told him her husband was “doing ok … and he seems to be coming along well — he’s in good spirits,” Biden said.
He said it was irresponsible for politicians to speak of elections being “stolen” and of the coronavirus being a “hoax,” and not think that such statements may “affect people who may not be so well balanced.” He also pointed to apparently similar sentiments expressed against Pelosi during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted that he was “horrified and disgusted” by the attack and “grateful to hear that Paul is on track to make a full recovery.”
However, fellow Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin drew ire after suggesting on the campaign trail that Republican voters would soon send the House speaker back home to be with her husband.
“There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send her back to be with him in California,” he said. A spokeswoman for Youngkin later told The Post the governor wished Paul Pelosi “a full recovery and is keeping the Pelosi family in his prayers.”
What misinformation about the attack has circulated?
As details of the incident emerged, there has also been a deluge of misinformation about DePape and the attack on Paul Pelosi, mostly from right-wing personalities whose claims diverge from accounts by authorities.
As The Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker writes, “the rush to sow doubt about the assault on Pelosi’s husband illustrates how aggressively influential figures on the right are seeking to dissuade the public from believing facts about the violence, seizing on the event to promote conspiracy theories and provoke distrust.”
The Post reported that Elon Musk tweeted and then deleted to his 112 million followers a link to a site that spreads right-wing misinformation.
Political commentator Dinesh D’Souza — whose film “2000 Mules” supported Trump’s debunked claims of widespread voter fraud — promoted the suggestion that the attack on Paul Pelosi was a false flag, or form of intentional misrepresentation.
Part of the confusion is tied to mistaken reporting by a Fox affiliate, which later added a correction to its article, that claimed that alleged assailant was in underwear at the time of his arrest.
District Attorney Jenkins said she is aware of the conspiracy theories.
“As leaders and as citizens, it is incumbent upon us all to watch the words that we say and to turn down the volume of our political rhetoric,” she said Monday. “We should be able to all engage in passionate political discourse but still remain respectful of one another.”
Speaker Pelosi has long been a target of right-wing hate and figurative attacks.
Leo Sands, Aaron C. Davis, Dalton Bennett, Annah Aschbrenner, Eugene Scott, Perry Stein, Paul Kane, and Lisa Bonos contributed to this report.
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