Paul Pelosi recovering as attack renews focus on toxic politics


Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was recovering in Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Saturday following surgery for a fractured skull and other injuries from an attack by a hammer-wielding intruder.

The attack has reignited concerns about violence amid a toxic political atmosphere in the final days before the midterm elections. It has also renewed calls for beefed-up security for lawmakers and their family members.

San Francisco police have identified the suspect in the Pelosi attack as David DePape, 42, who appears to have been deeply drawn into election conspiracy theories, QAnon and fringe rantings.

The Washington Post confirmed that a voluminous blog written under DePape’s name was filled with deeply antisemitic writings and baseless claims as well as pro-Trump and anti-Democratic posts. It was registered to a house in Richmond, Calif., where DePape lives, according to neighbors.

Attack on her husband follows years of GOP demonizing Nancy Pelosi

Police Chief William Scott would not speculate on a motive for the attack. But it appears that the assailant had been looking for the speaker, and he uttered “Where’s Nancy?,” according to a person briefed on the case.

“This was not a random act. This was intentional,” Scott told reporters on Friday.

DePape is expected to be charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and burglary, among other offenses, according to Scott.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said on Twitter that charges would be brought on Monday and DePape is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.

What we know about the Paul Pelosi attack and suspect David DePape

The U.S. Capitol Police, the agency charged with protecting members of Congress, has reported a sharp increase in threats against lawmakers in recent years, and threats have sharply escalated since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. It said the number of cases involving threats against members of Congress rose from about 4,000 in 2017 to more than 9,600 last year.

Lawmakers and others have reacted with horror to the attack, adding that improving the security of lawmakers — and their families — must be a top priority.

“We need a fresh examination of this,” Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents a San Francisco Bay area district close to Pelosi’s, said in an interview. “It’s reported constantly in the media that threats have increased, and they have. My constituents are surprised that we stand in line, go through security — they think every one of us has security.”

Eshoo described the Pelosis as “dear friends” and said the attack was devastating. “I felt like yesterday was a twilight zone. Thank God Paul wasn’t killed.”

She said she talked to a fellow representative about the security problem and they agreed there was no easy answer. “We both said, we can’t do our work by hiding. It doesn’t work that way. You have to be with people.”

In an interview, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) expressed exasperation that not all Republicans immediately and forcefully condemned the attack.

“I am very disappointed at the tepid response on the other side,” she said. “Some people have condemned it, but others have remained silent or made it into a political joke.”

DeGette noted that when GOP Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot in 2017 by a gunman during congressional baseball practice, “everyone across the spectrum condemned it.”

She also said there needs to be more concern about congressional spouses, adding, “Here was Paul Pelosi, all by himself at home.”

DeGette said she had a security detail when she was one of eight House members who managed the second impeachment of former president Donald Trump. But her husband did not have protection when she was in Washington and he was in Colorado, she said.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), at a Democratic rally in Baltimore on Saturday, talked about the poisonous atmosphere affecting the nation’s political life.

“We must not let it become the land of the liars and the land of the purveyors of violence,” he said.

Aaron C. Davis, Dalton Bennett and Cate Brown contributed reporting.

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