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The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California

The Scribe

Assault on Pelosi: Unraveling the Trial

Taylor Hill
Mr. Pelosi told a federal jury that the intruder was targeting his wife, the former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, and wanted to “take her out.”

In an incident that unfolded just days before the 2022 midterm elections, the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, found himself at the center of a violent attack in their San Francisco home. The attacker was revealed as David DePape, armed with a hammer and zip ties, leaving Pelosi with a fractured skull and injuries to his arm and hands. 

Pelosi’s testimony during DePape’s trial illustrated the chilling details of the night, describing the shock of seeing an intruder at his bedroom door and the attack that followed it. DePape stands accused of attempted kidnap of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of the federal official. However, he has not pleaded guilty to them. 

Prosecutors presented evidence, including FBI testimony and surveillance footage, showcasing DePape’s malicious planning two months prior to the attack. It was revealed that DePape purchased various items, including body cameras, USB memory sticks, and even inflatable unicorn costumes, all to create an unsettling picture of the preparations.

DePape’s defense attorney, Jodi Linker, acknowledged the attack but argued that her client simply believed he was taking action against government corruption and other injustices.  The defense team’s strategy is to remind the court of the growing trends in American politics, where individuals engaged in violent acts, such as the January 6 Capital attack, seek to reduce the severity of charges by claiming they are detached from reality. Linker emphasized DePape’s conviction, commenting, “he believes them with every ounce of his being.”

Paul Pelosi’s testimony came on the trial’s second day after all of the electronics DePape was carrying and left in his room were collected. However, at the trial, Pelosi mentioned that he had not discussed the attack with anyone and urged his family not to either “because it has been too traumatic.” 

He recalled his bedroom door being busted open and interrogated about the whereabouts of his wife. When DePape asked, “Where’s Nancy?” he responded that his wife was in Washington. DePape then said he would tie him up while they waited for her return. 

“We had some conversation with him saying she was the leader of the pack, he had to take her out, and that he was going to wait for her,” Paul Pelosi said.

Stephanie Minor, the FBI Special Agent in charge of the investigation, testified that video showed DePape hit Paul Pelosi at least three times. 

Prosecutors played police body camera footage showing Pelosi facing down on the floor as the paramedics aided him. One was holding a towel against his head and another put a head and neck brace on him. Pelosi’s hands and face were covered in blood. Soon after, he underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and injuries to his right hand and arm.

According to prosecutors, DePape allegedly told a San Francisco detective that he wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage. He claimed that if she responded to his questions with the truth, he would release her. If she lied, he was going to “break her kneecaps” to prove to the other members of Congress that there were “consequences to actions.”

DePape barely showered emotion during most of the testimony, only smiling and lightly chuckling when Minor read a list of topics appearing on his blog, at his attorney’s request. They included topics of corruption, COVID-19, Jewish people, communism, and “woman,” a word used to describe a woman who complains too much. 

The defense’s narrative revolves around the idea that DePape’s actions weren’t an attempt to interfere with Nancy Pelosi’s official duties but rather he assumed a critical role in an alternate reality where he fought against corruption. This argument, increasingly common in cases involving political violence influenced by online conspiracy theories, poses a challenge for prosecutors seeking to establish criminal intent. 

During his testimony, DePape expressed that his true intent was to expose what he believed to be a sinister plot. He mentioned wearing an inflatable unicorn costume and interrogating Pelosi on camera was another Democratic plot against former President Trump. He revealed that “(he) wanted to use her to expose the truth.”

Prosecutor U.S. Attorney Laura Vartain Horn rejected the defense’s argument, claiming ample evidence proves the retaliation against Pelosi over her official role as the former Speaker of the House.

DePape is facing two charges: attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official and assault on an immediate family member of a U.S. official, both requiring the intent to interfere with or retaliate against the official over their duties. The kidnapping charges a 20-year prison sentence and assault has a 30-year sentence.

As DePape’s trial nears its end, the outcome of this trial has the jury facing the heavy task of deliberating the intent behind the attack and whether the defense’s argument is valid for contemplation.

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