The Justice Department charged David DePape Monday with assault and attempted kidnapping for his alleged attack on Paul Pelosi, and laid out in detail a gruesome plan that officials say DePape prepared, including holding Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hostage and breaking her kneecaps.
Nancy Pelosi was not at her California home on the morning of DePape’s attack; Paul Pelosi is still in the hospital after undergoing surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his arm and hands.
The complaint and affidavit, which includes information from law enforcement interviews, lays out the clearest picture to date of DePape’s alleged motives, as well as how the specific events unfurled that night.
Paul Pelosi told a San Francisco police department officer in the ambulance after the attack that he was sleeping when DePape entered his bedroom, demanding to see “Nancy.” Paul Pelosi said that she wouldn’t be home for days, and DePape said he’d wait. At some point during their conversation, per the charging documents, Paul Pelosi was able to go to the bathroom and call 9-1-1.
Officers testified separately that when they arrived at the residence, they saw both men with their hands on a hammer. When the police told them to drop it, DePape wrenched it out of Paul Pelosi’s grip and swung it into his head.
DePape detailed his plans for when Nancy Pelosi arrived to police, according to the affidavit.
“DePape stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy were to tell DePape the ‘truth,’ he would let her go, and if she ‘lied,’ he was going to break ‘her kneecaps.’ DePape was certain that Nancy would not have told the ‘truth,’” the document says.
“DePape also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions,” it adds. “DePape also explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DePape.”
San Francisco police department officers also say in the document that they found zip ties in the house.
“DePape stated he wanted to tie Pelosi up so that DePape could go to sleep as he was tired from having had to carry a backpack to the Pelosi residence,” the document says. “Around this time, according to DePape, DePape started taking out twist ties from his pocket so that he could restrain Pelosi.”
DePape, per the document, was aware of Paul Pelosi having called the police.
“DePape explained that he did not leave after Pelosi’s call to 9-1-1 because, much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender,” the affidavit says.
In addition to the zip ties, San Francisco police found “a roll of tape, white rope, one hammer, one pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal.”
In an accompanying press release, the Justice Department laid out the charges and potential sentences.
“DePape is charged with one count of assault of an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison,” the press release states. “DePape is also charged with one count of attempted kidnapping of a United States official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.”
The right-wing conspiracy theory machine, helped along by Elon Musk and Donald Trump Jr., has meanwhile been circulating the fabricated claim that Paul Pelosi was injured in a dispute with a male prostitute.
Some Democrats have begun linking the attack to the rhetoric of the right, where it’s common to hear Nancy Pelosi described not just as a political opponent to Republicans, but as fundamentally evil. DePape’s online footprint has surfaced, in which he embraces former President Donald Trump and QAnon, a Trump-loving conspiracy theory that characterizes Democratic leaders as satanic pedophiles.
Read the complaint here: