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Justice Department: Attacker sought to harm Nancy Pelosi

The House speaker wasn't home, but federal officials say man wanted to hold her hostage and break her kneecaps if she lied

Police take measurements House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home in San Francisco after her husband, Paul Pelosi, was assaulted with hammer inside the residence in the early morning Friday.
Police take measurements House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home in San Francisco after her husband, Paul Pelosi, was assaulted with hammer inside the residence in the early morning Friday. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A 42-year-old man charged in an attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought zip ties, tape, rope and at least one hammer to the couple’s San Francisco home early Friday morning, federal investigators said Monday.

After his arrest, David DePape told law enforcement officials that he planned to hold the speaker of the House hostage and speak with her, according to a criminal complaint released by the Justice Department.

If she “lied,” DePape said he was prepared to break “her kneecaps,” explaining that if she were wheeled into Congress, it would show other lawmakers that there were “consequences to actions,” the complaint stated. DePape also stated that he planned to use the speaker to lure in another unnamed individual.

The Justice Department announced two federal charges against DePape — assault and kidnapping of an immediate family member of a U.S. official — for the hammer attack against Paul Pelosi, 82, that sent him to the hospital with a fractured skull and other injuries.

The federal criminal complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, described DePape as prepared to “detain and injure” Speaker Pelosi. Local police earlier said that he shouted “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?” during the attack.

And the complaint released Monday reveals other new details about the assault, which many Democrats have called an assassination attempt.

Attack details

DePape initially used his hammer to break into the Pelosi residence through a glass door. After Paul Pelosi told DePape that his wife was not home, DePape took out “twist ties” to restrain Pelosi, according to the complaint. Pelosi made his way to a bathroom, where he called 911.

DePape did not leave after Paul Pelosi placed the call because, “much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender,” according to the complaint.

He did not strike Paul Pelosi with the hammer until law enforcement arrived at 2:31 a.m., about eight minutes after the 911 call.

Paul Pelosi underwent what the speaker’s office described as “successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands” after being taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The attack comes after other members of Congress have faced violence or threats — along with Supreme Court justices and other government officials — and lawmakers have discussed legislation to make it more difficult for attackers to find their information online.

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