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Attempted murder charge in ‘politically motivated’ attack on Pelosi husband

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The man accused of attacking US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was charged on Monday with attempted murder and attempted kidnapping of a public official, with the assault now described by a lead prosecutor as politically motivated.

Suspect David DePape of California was arrested early Friday morning after he allegedly broke into Pelosi’s San Francisco mansion, intending to tie up the powerful politician and break her kneecaps with a hammer if she did not confess to Democratic “lies,” the US Justice Department said in a court filing.

DePape had tape, rope, zip ties and other materials with him, the Justice Department said, but he found only Pelosi’s husband Paul, whom he attacked, hitting him in the head with a hammer.

Federal authorities on Monday charged DePape, 42, with attempting to kidnap a US official and assaulting her family member over her actions in her job.

Hours later, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced a slew of new state charges that she said include “attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder as well as threats to a public official and their family.”

If convicted on the state charges, DePape would face 13 years to life in prison, according to Jenkins.

She said the state and federal prosecutions will move forward in parallel, and that her office will seek to have DePape detained without bail when he is arraigned on Tuesday.

In a court affidavit, the FBI said DePape told them after his arrest that he viewed Nancy Pelosi as responsible for lies told by her Democratic Party.

He intended to hold Pelosi — who is second in line to the US presidency after the vice president — hostage and talk to her, the affidavit said.

“If Nancy were to tell DePape the ‘truth,’ he would let her go, and if she ‘lied,’ he was going to break ‘her kneecaps,’” the affidavit said.

Nancy Pelosi was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack.

Awakened by the break-in, Paul Pelosi dialled the 911 emergency number and meanwhile conversed with DePape, seeking to keep the situation calm until police arrived.

But when police came on the scene the two struggled over a hammer and DePape smashed Paul Pelosi’s head with it, leaving him unconscious, according to the affidavit.

Police subdued DePape and Pelosi, 82, was sent to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.

DePape later told authorities that Paul Pelosi was “taking the punishment instead” of his wife, given her absence.

Nancy Pelosi said late Monday that her family has been deluged with thousands of messages of concern and warm wishes, and while a recovery was expected for her husband, she stressed he faced extensive rehabilitation.

“Thanks to the excellent trauma care medical team at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Paul is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

– Heightened tensions –
The assault and attempted kidnapping came amid heightened political tensions ahead of the November 8 midterm elections, with Democrats expected to lose their majority in the Pelosi-led House of Representatives.

Asked about the motivations for the violence, District Attorney Jenkins said that based on DePape’s statements, and his remarks made in the Pelosi home, “this was politically motivated.”

On Friday, before details of the Pelosi attack were known, US security officials expressed concerns in a pre-election intelligence bulletin that disinformation could foment attacks by extremists.

DePape, who lived in a garage in nearby Richmond, California, was not a known extremist but had in recent months posted and reposted unfounded claims that elections had been rigged, that climate science and Covid vaccines were bogus, that the Holocaust was fake, and other conspiracy theories.

Inti Gonzalez, whose mother was DePape’s partner for several years, said he had mental health issues and had recently turned to right-wing plot-mongering.

In addition to the state attempted murder charge, the federal kidnapping charge brings up to 20 years in prison and the assault charge a maximum of 30 years in prison.