Paul Pelosi attacker wanted to break Speaker's kneecaps, FBI says

Details emerge as federal charges filed against man accused of brutal attack

A San Francisco police car outside the home of Nancy and Paul Pelosi on Saturday. AP
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The man accused of attacking US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband in the couple's San Francisco home planned on breaking the top Democrat's knees and confining her to a wheelchair, authorities said on Monday.

They announced federal charges against the suspect, David DePape, who was arrested at the scene of last Friday’s violent break-in at the Pelosis’ home.

Mr DePape is accused of battering Paul Pelosi, 82, with a hammer after breaking into the house. Ms Pelosi was in Washington at the time.

Mr DePape told local police that he went to the residence with the intent of holding Ms Pelosi hostage and talking to her, according to an FBI criminal complaint released on Monday.

"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 complaint states.

"DePape articulated he viewed Nancy as the 'leader of the pack' of lies told by the Democratic Party.

"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."

The US Justice Department charged Mr DePape, 42, with assaulting a family member of a US official, with the intent to retaliate against the official for doing their duties, an agency statement reads.

The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

Mr DePape is also charged with a count of attempted kidnapping of a US official, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, and San Francisco prosecutors announced more charges later on Monday.

The city's district attorney charged him with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, and he is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.

During the attack on Mr Pelosi — which was seen in part by responding police officers — Mr DePape allegedly struck the victim with a hammer while in a scuffle with Mr Pelosi, leaving him in need of skull surgery.

"DePape stated that he broke into the house through a glass door, which was a difficult task that required the use of a hammer," the FBI complaint reads.

"DePape stated that Pelosi was in bed and appeared surprised by DePape. DePape told Pelosi to wake up. DePape told Pelosi that he was looking for Nancy."

The FBI complaint also states that he went to the residence with tape, rope, a hammer and zip-ties.

Ms Pelosi on Saturday said in a letter to her Congressional colleagues: "A violent man broke into our family home, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband Paul.

"Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatised by the life-threatening attack on our Pop."

Updated: June 21, 2023, 9:07 AM