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Paul Pelosi attends Kennedy Center Honors in first public appearance since attack

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her husband, Paul Pelosi, attend the 45th Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington on Sunday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
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Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), made his first public appearance Sunday, at the Kennedy Center Honors, since being violently attacked at the couple’s San Francisco home in October.

The 82-year-old business executive was welcomed with a thunderous standing ovation as he accompanied his wife to the storied event in the Kennedy Center’s Opera House.

At the event honoring Americans who have made significant contributions to the arts, Paul Pelosi sat beside his wife in the balcony of the performing arts center’s Opera House, wearing a hat while applauding honorees. He had a black glove on one hand.

Guests, stars and honorees spoke on the red carpet of the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4. (Video: Allie Caren, Breanna Muir/The Washington Post, Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Reuters/The Washington Post)

The honorees had gathered on Saturday evening in the Ben Franklin room at the State Department to receive their medallions after a lengthy dinner and cocktail hour.

Joining the honored were artistic luminaries, including Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, Sean Penn, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. Despite all the Hollywood glitterati, Paul Pelosi received the most boisterous applause. All 200-plus celebrities and political elite leaped to their feet as Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Paul Pelosi’s attendance as he joined his wife at the dinner.

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In October, an intruder broke into the couple’s home at night in the exclusive Pacific Heights neighborhood through a glass door, searching for the speaker, who was out of town at the time of the incident, and shouting “Where is Nancy?”

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Pelosi endured such severe injuries from a hammer that he had to undergo surgery to repair a skull fracture. Pelosi also suffered from “serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” according to the speaker’s office.

David Wayne DePape faces several state and federal charges related to the attack, including attempted murder, attempted kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. According to court documents, the 42-year-old told police he was on a “suicide mission” and was targeting a number of state and federal politicians to combat “lies” coming out of Washington.

Last month, the speaker said that her decision not to seek leadership in the Democratic Party during the next congressional session was in part due to the attack. She said she felt guilty that she was the intruder’s focus yet her husband endured the violence.

In her speech last month announcing her decision to step down from leadership, Pelosi thanked her husband, calling him “my pillar of support,” and said she was grateful for “all of the prayers and well wishes as he continues his recovery.”

The lawmaker told reporters last month that her husband was “doing okay,” but faced a long recovery. The emotional trauma of the incident had left a deep mark on the entire family, Pelosi said.

“If he had fallen, slipped on the ice or was in an accident and hurt his head, it would be horrible, but to have it be an assault on him because they were looking for me is really — they call it ‘survivor’s guilt’ or something,” she said in her most detailed comments following the incident. “But the traumatic effect on him, this happened in our house.”

“It made our home a crime scene,” Pelosi added.

While some GOP lawmakers and noted figures expressed concern for the couple following the incident, the Pelosis quickly became the target of conspiracy theories from political opponents and punchlines from those on the right in the days following the attack, something the speaker sharply criticized.

“If your spouse were in a situation where other people would make a joke of it, think it was funny, be collecting money for bail for the perpetrator, putting out a conspiracy theory about what it was about — it’s so horrible to think the Republican Party has come down to this, and no real rejection of it by anybody in the party,” she said. “It’s so sad for our country.”

Travis Andrews contributed to this report.