Nov 14, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Paul Pelosi testifies at federal trial about "traumatic" attack

Nancy and Paul Pelosi

Paul and Nancy Pelosi at a state dinner at the White House on June 22. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Paul Pelosi, husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), spoke publicly for the first time on Monday about the October 2022 attack in the couple's San Francisco home.

Driving the news: Paul Pelosi recounted the details of the assault in his testimony at the federal trial of David DePape, who is accused of breaking into the Pelosi's residence and bludgeoning him with a hammer.

  • Pelosi recalled the moment of surprise upon seeing DePape in his bedroom and how his assailant had asked, "Where's Nancy?" AP reported.
  • "It was a tremendous sense of shock to recognize that somebody had broken into the house and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognized that I was in serious danger," Pelosi told the jury.
  • Regarding his assailant's search for his wife, Pelosi recalled DePape telling him that "she was the leader of the pack and he had to take her out," the New York Times reported.
  • Pelosi testified that he had not discussed the attack with anyone and had also discouraged his family from doing so "because it has been too traumatic," per AP.

State of play: DePape pled not guilty last year to federal charges of attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official and assault of an immediate family member of a U.S. official.

  • DePape's lawyer Jodi Linker said at the start of the trial last week that she won't dispute that DePape attacked Pelosi, per AP. Video footage of the attack was publicly released in January.
  • Linker will argue that the federal charges shouldn't apply because DePape's motivation for the attack was not due to Nancy Pelosi's official duties as a member of Congress, per the New York Times.
  • Instead, DePape believed "with every ounce of his being" that he was acting to stop government corruption, pedophilia, and the erosion of freedom in the U.S., per AP.
  • DePape has a history of making racist remarks and promoting QAnon conspiracy theories online. During her opening statement last week, federal prosecutor Laura Vartain Horn played a call DePape made to a TV station in which he repeated conspiracy theories, per AP.

Zoom out: DePape faces up to 50 years in prison if found guilty of the federal charges.

Go deeper: Suspect in Pelosi attack's online activity: What we know

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional context from the trial and about DePape's background.

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