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December 10, 2022 12:49 am

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Paul Pelosi: Who is spreading false claims about attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband? – BBC News


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Paul Pelosi, the husband of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked by a hammer-wielding intruder at the couple’s San Francisco home in the early hours of Friday.

Within hours of the attack, a series of unsubstantiated claims began circulating in fringe far-right circles that contradicted the official police account of how the attack unfolded.

Those misleading claims have since gone viral after being amplified by new Twitter chief Elon Musk and a number of conservative influencers.

BBC News examines some of the claims about the attack.

False same-sex affair claims

One of the most viral false claims about the attack suggests that Mr Pelosi, 82, and his attacker David DePape, 42, were in a same-sex relationship and had a drunken quarrel.

A series of baseless assumptions that do not match official accounts of the incident have been used to support the narrative.

These claims started to trend in the US after Elon Musk tweeted an article from a website featuring similar claims to his 112 million followers on Sunday, before deleting his tweet without any explanation hours later.

“There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” Mr Musk had said in response to a tweet by former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The website Mr Musk linked to has a history of publishing inaccurate stories, including an article from 2016 that claimed Hillary Clinton was dead.

One of the claims made online is that both Mr DePape and Mr Pelosi were in just their underwear as police arrived at the scene.

But the FBI complaint against Mr DePape quotes a witness as saying he was dressed “in all black” carrying a large black bag on his back.

Another claim seized on to support this narrative is that the two men knew each other before the attack and were friends.

According to the FBI complaint, Paul Pelosi did not know Mr DePape. Mr Pelosi used coded language as he made a 911 call from the bathroom, and an experienced operator worked out what was happening in his house.

Another rumour supporting the idea that the two men knew each other claimed that the shattered glass door of the house was broken from the inside, suggesting Mr Pelosi or a third person had let Mr DePape in.

The FBI complaint quotes Mr DePape as saying that he “broke into the house through a glass door, which was a difficult task that required the use of a hammer”.

There is no evidence in any of the police accounts that a third person was either in the house or involved in the attack.

Claims DePape’s blogs were faked

Two personal blogs and a Facebook account in the suspect’s name were found on the internet after police revealed his name following the attack, all of which were subsequently taken down.

His writings, viewed by the BBC, suggest he was a man radicalised by far-right conspiracy theories.

His posts cover a range of subjects, including unsubstantiated theories that the 2020 election was stolen, the 6 January Capitol riot, claims that Covid vaccines were harmful, support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as racist and anti-Semitic posts.

Some online posts suggested the blogs were fake and only created on the day of the attack to support the narrative that he believed in far-right conspiracy theories.

Some have also claimed the attack was not motivated by politics or Mr DePape’s beliefs.

Conservative commentator Matt Walsh said it was “absurd” to portray the attacker as “a militant right winger”.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz echoed Mr Walsh’s words, simply tweeting “truth”.

However, the police complaint clarifies the attack was not a random act. According to San Francisco’s district attorney Brooke Jenkins, the attack was likely “politically motivated”.

In his police interview, Mr DePape described Nancy Pelosi as the “leader of the pack of lies told by the Democratic Party”, adding that he wanted to “break her kneecaps”.

Conservative figures, including Congressman Steve Scalise and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, have also been targets of violent attacks by political opponents in recent years.

Evidence-free accusations against Marjorie Taylor Greene

Baseless theories in the aftermath of the attack weren’t confined to the right.

Some liberal influencers seized on a tweet by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, posted a day prior to the attack, which read: “Just wait until tomorrow.”

A number of accounts with large liberal followings claimed that Ms Taylor Greene’s tweet could be a hint that she was in on the attack on Mr Pelosi. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory.

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Paul Pelosi: Who is spreading false claims about attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband?

His posts cover a range of subjects, including unsubstantiated theories that the 2020 election was stolen, the 6 January Capitol riot, claims that Covid vaccines were harmful, support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as racist and anti-Semitic posts.

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Kremlin crack-up: who’s out to get Putin?

Kremlin-Crack.jpg

The soldier with the Kalashnikov wasn’t happy. Neither were the hundreds of comrades who had chosen him as the spokesman for their angry complaints as they milled about on a train platform somewhere in Russia. ‘There are 500 of us, we are armed, but we haven’t been assigned to any unit,’ the newly mobilised soldier complained on a video that went viral earlier this month. ‘We’ve been living worse than farm animals for a week… Nobody needs us, we’ve had absolutely no training.’ Other soldiers, most of them masked, chipped in with more grievances. ‘The officers treat us like animals,’ shouted one. ‘We’ve spent a fortune on buying food for ourselves.’

The video – and others like it – was rightly cited in the western press as evidence of the chaos that followed the ‘partial’ mobilisation announced by Vladimir Putin on 21 September. But the video also revealed something much more significant about how defeat in the field is sending cracks running through the ‘power vertical’ over which Putin presides.

Watch carefully and you can see among the ordinary forest-green camouflage army-issue uniforms several of the soldiers wearing more sophisticated kit, marked with the distinctive death’s-head badge of the Wagner private military company. The video was distributed by social media channels associated with Wagner’s founder and public face Yevgeny Prigozhin – a billionaire St Petersburg caterer and businessman better known as Putin’s chef. In other words, this video shows not only discontented soldiers but also a private army engaged in political manoeuvres.

It’s not hard to guess Prigozhin’s agenda in distributing – and possibly orchestrating – the video. The head of Russia’s largest private army is trying to undermine Russia’s beleaguered Minister of Defence, Sergei Shoigu. And Prigozhin is far from alone. Since Ukrainian advances near Kharkiv last month, Shoigu and his generals have come under heavy and public attack from patriotic pro-war bloggers, Wagner-affiliated media and the hawkish Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and even state-controlled TV. ‘The guilty should be punished [though] we don’t have capital punishment unfortunately,’ the ultra-nationalistic TV host Vladimir Solovyov told his viewers. ‘They don’t even have an officer’s sense of honour because they are not shooting themselves.’ Aleksey Slobedenyuk, who runs a network of Telegram channels for Prigozhin’s patriot media group, was arrested by a squad of paramilitary police, and the footage was widely broadcast by pro-Shoigu media factions.

Modern Russia is not just a security state but a state that has been taken over by its own security services

So far, only Russia’s military command, not Putin himself, have come in for public criticism. But the obvious question is whether, or when, Putin will come into the firing line. The image of the good tsar surrounded by bad advisers is as old as Russian history. But history also shows that military defeat – from the Russo-Japanese war to Afghanistan – rarely ends well for regimes whose corruption and incompetence are brutally exposed by the stress-test of war.

To date, Putin has stayed one step ahead of the rising tide of military humiliation and criticism by constantly escalating the conflict. In response to the collapse of the Kharkiv front, he announced partial mobilisation and ordered hasty referendums in the occupied territories, followed by formal annexation. In response to the partial destruction of the Kerch Bridge, Putin launched more than 100 cruise missiles in two days at mostly civilian targets in more than a dozen Ukrainian cities. In July, Putin dismissively said that: ‘We haven’t even started [fighting] in earnest yet.’ Now, in response to a rising chorus of critics urging the Kremlin to take off the kid gloves, Putin has publicly gone all-in.

Suella Braverman’s critics ignore an uncomfortable truth

But what happens if the Ukrainians keep winning? Putin can continue firing commanders (as he did after the Kerch attack). He can organise some public show trials of alleged Ukrainian ‘Nazis’ from among the unfortunate Azov battalion prisoners taken after the battle of Mariupol. And he could, theoretically, make good on the renewed promise he made last month that he was ‘not bluffing’ about the use of nuclear weapons – though the West has made clear that their conventional response to a nuclear attack would make it a suicide strategy for the Kremlin.

The good news, for Putin, is that 20 years of efficient repression and media control have meant that so far there has been little public resistance to the Ukraine war. On the evening of Putin’s mobilisation call, I saw some 200 people gathered on the Old Arbat for a brave but futile protest that was almost instantly extinguished by riot police who outnumbered the protestors by at least two to one. Two mass exoduses – one following the outbreak of war and another after the 21 September mobilisation – have seen between 500,000 and 700,000 people leave Russia for good. Among them were the bulk of the urban, politically engaged ‘protesting classes’. Currently, as historian Anatol Lieven recently wrote, ‘There is no coherent or organised force in Russian society that could bring about… revolution.’

The main challenge to Putin’s power, then, comes not from the street but from within the regime itself. Putin turned 70 on the eve of the Kerch Bridge attack. Whether rumours of his chronic illness are correct or not (CIA director William Burns said in August that he believed that Putin was ‘far too well’), the debate over Putin’s successor has been at the forefront of the minds of Russia’s top power-brokers for at least three years. In February 2019 the chief Kremlin ideologue Vladislav Surkov dared to publish a long essay discussing what a post-Putin Russia might look like. ‘Putinism’ would outlast Putin himself, Surkov argued, attempting to reassure the ex-KGB men who were Putin’s closest confidants that they had nothing to fear from a transition of power. They were not reassured. It was Surkov rather than Putin who was later shown the door.

Institutionally, the Kremlin has for years been effectively an extension of the Federal Security Service, or FSB. The three most powerful men in Russia today are all current or former FSB chiefs – Putin himself, the Security Council chairman Nikolai Patrushev and the current FSB head Alexander Bortnikov. They met in the Leningrad KGB in the mid-1970s and have known and worked with each other for nearly half a century. Most other top Kremlin mandarins – for instance the Rosneft head Igor Sechin, the foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin and many more – are also drawn from that same tiny Leningrad KGB circle, leavened by a few of Putin’s old friends from his time as deputy mayor of St Petersburg in the 1990s.

For these people, the question of who is eventually chosen to succeed Putin is much less important than who does the choosing. In 2000 Patrushev – newly appointed as head of the FSB by his former subordinate Putin who had just become President – wrote an essay comparing the FSB to Russia’s ‘new nobility’. And over the subsequent 20 years the FSB did indeed proceed not only to take over swaths of Russia’s state and private business but also to appoint their children as ministers and even – just like the aristocracy of tsarist Russia – make dynastic marriages among themselves.

Modern Russia is not just a security state but literally a state that has been taken over by its own security services. Putin is the ultimate decision-maker and arbiter in various disputes between rival factions inside that extended FSB-connected ruling class. And insofar as a ‘collective Putin’ exists, it’s composed of a tiny group of very closely connected, very paranoid old men whose chief goal is to preserve their wealth and power and pass it on to their children and protégés.

So when we consider whether regime change is possible in Russia, what we are really wondering is whether some outside force could ever challenge the rule, not of Putin himself, but of the extended FSB clan that currently holds ultimate political and economic power.

The army has not played a decisive political role in Russia since the aftermath of Stalin’s death in 1953, when Marshal Georgy Zhukov effectively pulled off an armed coup by arresting and soon after murdering KGB boss Lavrentiy Beria. Ever since that painful showdown between soldiers and secret police, the KGB and FSB made very sure that Russia’s military had no role in internal security – most recently by creating the Russian National Guard, headed naturally by a former KGB man, Putin’s former body-guard Viktor Zolotov. The silent majority of Russia’s elite – the mid-level bureaucrats, professionals and business-people who have been robbed of their futures and their wealth by the war – are by all accounts collectively horrified by it. Notionally these people represent significant economic and bureaucratic power. But they have no organised political voice and generally have too much to lose to risk rebellion.

So when Kadyrov, Prigozhin and the other heavily armed patriotic critics attack the failed war effort, they are not so much challenging the status quo as jockeying for advantage within it. And they succeed in advancing up the chain of command to positions of greater influence. There are other critical voices – for instance the ultranationalist philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, the Orthodox Christian fundamentalist billionaire and TV station owner Konstantin Malofeev, or the novelist-turned-Donbas rebel commander Zakhar Prilepin or former Donetsk People’s Republic defence minister Igor Strelkov – who were once in the nationalist opposition to the Kremlin but now find themselves more or less aligned with the newfound radical nationalism of the Putin regime. All have called for Putin to be more ruthless and aggressive in Ukraine. Strelkov has been a vocal critic of the Russian military’s failures from the start, and last month said that the war is already lost. Such radical nationalists are the true believers, they are armed, and they have spilled blood for their country. And they will not forgive further failure on the front lines.

If the Russian army suffers a serious collapse and the country moves into a revolutionary situation, such nationalist firebrands will be the Kremlin elite’s most dangerous foes. It is much more likely, however, that the FSB clique around Putin will respond to a rising tide of nationalist anger and frustration by becoming more nationalist and authoritarian themselves. They may make Kadyrov defence minister or appoint Prigozhin to a senior ministerial post. But Kadyrov’s and Prigozhin’s ambitions in themselves do not present a fundamental challenge to the power of the ruling FSB clan which controls serious military force, and has a stronghold on Russia’s media and politics.

The power of the extended FSB dwarfs that of any potential challengers except for one: a rising, angry people who feel cheated of victory by their corrupt leaders. That revolution is likely to be as chaotic and ugly as the one which followed Russia’s last catastrophic military defeat in 1917 – and will doubtless begin, as the previous one did, with angry soldiers on remote train platforms railing against the tsar’s corrupt ministers.

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Suspect in Pelosi Attack Had Other Targets, Authorities Say

01nat-pelosi-arraignment-1-facebookJumbo

The man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband told the police that he also planned to confront other state and federal politicians.

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District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Tim ArangoHolly Secon and Kellen Browning

Nov. 1, 2022Updated 7:47 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO — After an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, leaving him unconscious for three minutes as he lay in a pool of blood, the attacker told the police that he had other targets: a local professor, and several prominent state and federal politicians.

The new details of the attack that police officers say was motivated by the assailant’s desire to take Ms. Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” emerged Tuesday in a court filing, as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges after investigators say he broke into the Pelosi residence last week in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood and demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, the country’s third most powerful politician, who was in Washington at the time.

The filing by local prosecutors on Tuesday provided new and chilling details about the attack, including how Mr. Pelosi, in a terrifying situation, was able to surreptitiously call 911 while he was in the bathroom and the intruder was in the house. It also offers insights into a disturbed man seemingly enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country.

After breaking into the home by busting a glass door on the back porch, the intruder found Mr. Pelosi asleep in his bedroom just after 2 a.m., according to the filing. He demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, and when he was told she wouldn’t be back for days, the suspect said he would wait for her.

Mr. Pelosi, sitting on his bed, asked him why.

“Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” the intruder said, according to the police.

At another point, when Mr. Pelosi asked if he could call anyone for Mr. DePape, the suspect “ominously responded that it was the end of the road for Mr. Pelosi.”

The police said that without any questioning, Mr. DePape told them that he was on a suicide mission. The authorities said he believed he had been captured by home security cameras and recorded on the 911 call, but remain undeterred.

The “defendant’s intent could not have been clearer: he forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” prosecutors wrote as they asked the court to detain Mr. DePape without bail.

The latest filing came a day after federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Mr. DePape that said he directly targeted Ms. Pelosi and intended to make an example of her to other members of Congress.

“I’m sick of the insane fucking level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.,” he told officers at the scene, according to the local filing. “I came to have a little chat with his wife.”

During the 911 call that prompted a dispatcher to send officers, Mr. Pelosi left the phone on speaker and, trying to keep the assailant calm once he realized the police were on the line, was able to gently imply to dispatch that something was amiss.

At one point, “to defuse the situation,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Pelosi told dispatch he didn’t need the police. When dispatch told him to call back if he changed his mind, he said, “No, no, no, this gentleman just uh came into the house uh and he wants to wait for my wife to come home.”

In the days since the attack, those who know Mr. DePape have described a shy man who once seemed to live the lifestyle of a Bay Area hippie but who in recent years fell into homelessness, isolation and darkness, spending his time immersed in an online world of conspiracy theories and bigotry.

About six years ago, according to his most recent employer, Mr. DePape was down on his luck, living under a tree in a park and hanging around outside a lumber store in Berkeley, Calif., looking for work.

“You know how people sit outside and wait for someone to come and offer them work?” recalled Frank Ciccarelli, a carpenter who builds houses and makes furniture. “He was sitting there. So I picked him up. So he started working for me. And he really worked out well.”

For the next several years Mr. Ciccarelli became close to Mr. DePape, even as he worked less and seemed to spend more time online, immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories — right up until a week ago, when he paid Mr. DePape his most recent wages.

Mr. DePape was assigned a public defender, Adam Lipson, to represent him. In comments after Tuesday’s court appearance, Mr. Lipson said Mr. DePape was recently moved to the county jail from a hospital, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder he sustained during the arrest.

Mr. Lipson promised to mount a “vigorous defense” and signaled that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

Mr. Ciccarelli, 76, described Mr. DePape as a quiet person and a diligent worker — an easygoing guy, at least until the topic of politics came up. He said he spent several hours a day with Mr. DePape four or five days a week. “I think I know him better than anyone does.”

Over the six years he has known Mr. DePape, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he witnessed a transformation from a shy and hardworking, but troubled, man into someone who was increasingly isolated and captive to his darkest thoughts.

“If you got him talking about politics, it was all over,” Mr. Ciccarelli recalled in an interview this week. “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line.”

Frank Ciccarelli helped the landlord of Mr. DePape, Malcolm Lubliner, not pictured, remove Mr. DePape’s belongings from a home in Richmond, Calif.Credit…Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Mr. DePape’s sympathies for the most extreme right-wing conspiracy theories are one piece of the growing investigation into his background.

On Monday, Mr. DePape was charged with multiple state and federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Mr. Pelosi, 82, who remains at a local hospital after undergoing surgery. In a statement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her husband, “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

For a time, Mr. DePape, who grew up in British Columbia in Canada and moved to California about two decades ago to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met in Hawaii. For a time, he house-sat for a woman in the East Bay area who ran an urban farm for low-income residents, and sometimes helped take care of the chickens.

But in the years leading up to the attack on the Pelosi family, Mr. DePape seemed to be spending more and more time in the darkest corners of the internet, according to Mr. Ciccarelli. After working together for a few years, Mr. Ciccarelli helped Mr. DePape get away from the streets, moving him into a friend’s garage studio in Richmond, Calif.

“Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer,” Mr. Ciccarelli said. “Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug.”

On Saturday, the F.B.I. raided the garage in Richmond and seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of gloves.

As he spent more time on his computer in recent months, Mr. DePape appeared to have produced a voluminous record of his political leanings — ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, appearing to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender. Mr. DePape’s blog was registered at the Richmond address where he resided.

Mr. Ciccarelli, who said he was scheduled to work with Mr. DePape on Monday, said he never heard Mr. DePape make racist comments, but said he had become increasingly isolated the last few years and wanted to work less in the carpentry business.

“He was completely caught up in the fantasy, in the MAGA fantasy,” he said.

Over the last few days, Mr. Ciccarelli has struggled to make sense of the news about his friend. “He did a monstrous thing, but he’s not a monster,” he said. “He’s really decent, gentle — it sounds crazy to say gentle — but he was a very gentle soul. But he was going downhill. He went down the rabbit hole.”

Charlie Savage, Alan Feuer and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.

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Suspect in Pelosi Attack Had Other Targets, Authorities Say

01nat-pelosi-arraignment-1-facebookJumbo

The man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband told the police that he also planned to confront other state and federal politicians.

  • Send any friend a story

    As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.

    Give this articleGive this articleGive this article
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Tim ArangoHolly Secon and Kellen Browning

Nov. 1, 2022Updated 7:47 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO — After an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, leaving him unconscious for three minutes as he lay in a pool of blood, the attacker told the police that he had other targets: a local professor, and several prominent state and federal politicians.

The new details of the attack that police officers say was motivated by the assailant’s desire to take Ms. Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” emerged Tuesday in a court filing, as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges after investigators say he broke into the Pelosi residence last week in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood and demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, the country’s third most powerful politician, who was in Washington at the time.

The filing by local prosecutors on Tuesday provided new and chilling details about the attack, including how Mr. Pelosi, in a terrifying situation, was able to surreptitiously call 911 while he was in the bathroom and the intruder was in the house. It also offers insights into a disturbed man seemingly enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country.

After breaking into the home by busting a glass door on the back porch, the intruder found Mr. Pelosi asleep in his bedroom just after 2 a.m., according to the filing. He demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, and when he was told she wouldn’t be back for days, the suspect said he would wait for her.

Mr. Pelosi, sitting on his bed, asked him why.

“Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” the intruder said, according to the police.

At another point, when Mr. Pelosi asked if he could call anyone for Mr. DePape, the suspect “ominously responded that it was the end of the road for Mr. Pelosi.”

The police said that without any questioning, Mr. DePape told them that he was on a suicide mission. The authorities said he believed he had been captured by home security cameras and recorded on the 911 call, but remain undeterred.

The “defendant’s intent could not have been clearer: he forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” prosecutors wrote as they asked the court to detain Mr. DePape without bail.

The latest filing came a day after federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Mr. DePape that said he directly targeted Ms. Pelosi and intended to make an example of her to other members of Congress.

“I’m sick of the insane fucking level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.,” he told officers at the scene, according to the local filing. “I came to have a little chat with his wife.”

During the 911 call that prompted a dispatcher to send officers, Mr. Pelosi left the phone on speaker and, trying to keep the assailant calm once he realized the police were on the line, was able to gently imply to dispatch that something was amiss.

At one point, “to defuse the situation,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Pelosi told dispatch he didn’t need the police. When dispatch told him to call back if he changed his mind, he said, “No, no, no, this gentleman just uh came into the house uh and he wants to wait for my wife to come home.”

In the days since the attack, those who know Mr. DePape have described a shy man who once seemed to live the lifestyle of a Bay Area hippie but who in recent years fell into homelessness, isolation and darkness, spending his time immersed in an online world of conspiracy theories and bigotry.

About six years ago, according to his most recent employer, Mr. DePape was down on his luck, living under a tree in a park and hanging around outside a lumber store in Berkeley, Calif., looking for work.

“You know how people sit outside and wait for someone to come and offer them work?” recalled Frank Ciccarelli, a carpenter who builds houses and makes furniture. “He was sitting there. So I picked him up. So he started working for me. And he really worked out well.”

For the next several years Mr. Ciccarelli became close to Mr. DePape, even as he worked less and seemed to spend more time online, immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories — right up until a week ago, when he paid Mr. DePape his most recent wages.

Mr. DePape was assigned a public defender, Adam Lipson, to represent him. In comments after Tuesday’s court appearance, Mr. Lipson said Mr. DePape was recently moved to the county jail from a hospital, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder he sustained during the arrest.

Mr. Lipson promised to mount a “vigorous defense” and signaled that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

Mr. Ciccarelli, 76, described Mr. DePape as a quiet person and a diligent worker — an easygoing guy, at least until the topic of politics came up. He said he spent several hours a day with Mr. DePape four or five days a week. “I think I know him better than anyone does.”

Over the six years he has known Mr. DePape, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he witnessed a transformation from a shy and hardworking, but troubled, man into someone who was increasingly isolated and captive to his darkest thoughts.

“If you got him talking about politics, it was all over,” Mr. Ciccarelli recalled in an interview this week. “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line.”

Frank Ciccarelli helped the landlord of Mr. DePape, Malcolm Lubliner, not pictured, remove Mr. DePape’s belongings from a home in Richmond, Calif.Credit…Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Mr. DePape’s sympathies for the most extreme right-wing conspiracy theories are one piece of the growing investigation into his background.

On Monday, Mr. DePape was charged with multiple state and federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Mr. Pelosi, 82, who remains at a local hospital after undergoing surgery. In a statement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her husband, “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

For a time, Mr. DePape, who grew up in British Columbia in Canada and moved to California about two decades ago to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met in Hawaii. For a time, he house-sat for a woman in the East Bay area who ran an urban farm for low-income residents, and sometimes helped take care of the chickens.

But in the years leading up to the attack on the Pelosi family, Mr. DePape seemed to be spending more and more time in the darkest corners of the internet, according to Mr. Ciccarelli. After working together for a few years, Mr. Ciccarelli helped Mr. DePape get away from the streets, moving him into a friend’s garage studio in Richmond, Calif.

“Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer,” Mr. Ciccarelli said. “Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug.”

On Saturday, the F.B.I. raided the garage in Richmond and seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of gloves.

As he spent more time on his computer in recent months, Mr. DePape appeared to have produced a voluminous record of his political leanings — ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, appearing to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender. Mr. DePape’s blog was registered at the Richmond address where he resided.

Mr. Ciccarelli, who said he was scheduled to work with Mr. DePape on Monday, said he never heard Mr. DePape make racist comments, but said he had become increasingly isolated the last few years and wanted to work less in the carpentry business.

“He was completely caught up in the fantasy, in the MAGA fantasy,” he said.

Over the last few days, Mr. Ciccarelli has struggled to make sense of the news about his friend. “He did a monstrous thing, but he’s not a monster,” he said. “He’s really decent, gentle — it sounds crazy to say gentle — but he was a very gentle soul. But he was going downhill. He went down the rabbit hole.”

Charlie Savage, Alan Feuer and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.

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Suspect in Pelosi Attack Had Other Targets, Authorities Say

01nat-pelosi-arraignment-1-facebookJumbo

The man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband told the police that he also planned to confront other state and federal politicians.

  • Send any friend a story

    As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.

    Give this articleGive this articleGive this article
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Tim ArangoHolly Secon and Kellen Browning

Nov. 1, 2022Updated 7:47 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO — After an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, leaving him unconscious for three minutes as he lay in a pool of blood, the attacker told the police that he had other targets: a local professor, and several prominent state and federal politicians.

The new details of the attack that police officers say was motivated by the assailant’s desire to take Ms. Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” emerged Tuesday in a court filing, as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges after investigators say he broke into the Pelosi residence last week in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood and demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, the country’s third most powerful politician, who was in Washington at the time.

The filing by local prosecutors on Tuesday provided new and chilling details about the attack, including how Mr. Pelosi, in a terrifying situation, was able to surreptitiously call 911 while he was in the bathroom and the intruder was in the house. It also offers insights into a disturbed man seemingly enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country.

After breaking into the home by busting a glass door on the back porch, the intruder found Mr. Pelosi asleep in his bedroom just after 2 a.m., according to the filing. He demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, and when he was told she wouldn’t be back for days, the suspect said he would wait for her.

Mr. Pelosi, sitting on his bed, asked him why.

“Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” the intruder said, according to the police.

At another point, when Mr. Pelosi asked if he could call anyone for Mr. DePape, the suspect “ominously responded that it was the end of the road for Mr. Pelosi.”

The police said that without any questioning, Mr. DePape told them that he was on a suicide mission. The authorities said he believed he had been captured by home security cameras and recorded on the 911 call, but remain undeterred.

The “defendant’s intent could not have been clearer: he forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” prosecutors wrote as they asked the court to detain Mr. DePape without bail.

The latest filing came a day after federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Mr. DePape that said he directly targeted Ms. Pelosi and intended to make an example of her to other members of Congress.

“I’m sick of the insane fucking level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.,” he told officers at the scene, according to the local filing. “I came to have a little chat with his wife.”

During the 911 call that prompted a dispatcher to send officers, Mr. Pelosi left the phone on speaker and, trying to keep the assailant calm once he realized the police were on the line, was able to gently imply to dispatch that something was amiss.

At one point, “to defuse the situation,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Pelosi told dispatch he didn’t need the police. When dispatch told him to call back if he changed his mind, he said, “No, no, no, this gentleman just uh came into the house uh and he wants to wait for my wife to come home.”

In the days since the attack, those who know Mr. DePape have described a shy man who once seemed to live the lifestyle of a Bay Area hippie but who in recent years fell into homelessness, isolation and darkness, spending his time immersed in an online world of conspiracy theories and bigotry.

About six years ago, according to his most recent employer, Mr. DePape was down on his luck, living under a tree in a park and hanging around outside a lumber store in Berkeley, Calif., looking for work.

“You know how people sit outside and wait for someone to come and offer them work?” recalled Frank Ciccarelli, a carpenter who builds houses and makes furniture. “He was sitting there. So I picked him up. So he started working for me. And he really worked out well.”

For the next several years Mr. Ciccarelli became close to Mr. DePape, even as he worked less and seemed to spend more time online, immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories — right up until a week ago, when he paid Mr. DePape his most recent wages.

Mr. DePape was assigned a public defender, Adam Lipson, to represent him. In comments after Tuesday’s court appearance, Mr. Lipson said Mr. DePape was recently moved to the county jail from a hospital, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder he sustained during the arrest.

Mr. Lipson promised to mount a “vigorous defense” and signaled that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

Mr. Ciccarelli, 76, described Mr. DePape as a quiet person and a diligent worker — an easygoing guy, at least until the topic of politics came up. He said he spent several hours a day with Mr. DePape four or five days a week. “I think I know him better than anyone does.”

Over the six years he has known Mr. DePape, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he witnessed a transformation from a shy and hardworking, but troubled, man into someone who was increasingly isolated and captive to his darkest thoughts.

“If you got him talking about politics, it was all over,” Mr. Ciccarelli recalled in an interview this week. “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line.”

Frank Ciccarelli helped the landlord of Mr. DePape, Malcolm Lubliner, not pictured, remove Mr. DePape’s belongings from a home in Richmond, Calif.Credit…Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Mr. DePape’s sympathies for the most extreme right-wing conspiracy theories are one piece of the growing investigation into his background.

On Monday, Mr. DePape was charged with multiple state and federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Mr. Pelosi, 82, who remains at a local hospital after undergoing surgery. In a statement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her husband, “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

For a time, Mr. DePape, who grew up in British Columbia in Canada and moved to California about two decades ago to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met in Hawaii. For a time, he house-sat for a woman in the East Bay area who ran an urban farm for low-income residents, and sometimes helped take care of the chickens.

But in the years leading up to the attack on the Pelosi family, Mr. DePape seemed to be spending more and more time in the darkest corners of the internet, according to Mr. Ciccarelli. After working together for a few years, Mr. Ciccarelli helped Mr. DePape get away from the streets, moving him into a friend’s garage studio in Richmond, Calif.

“Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer,” Mr. Ciccarelli said. “Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug.”

On Saturday, the F.B.I. raided the garage in Richmond and seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of gloves.

As he spent more time on his computer in recent months, Mr. DePape appeared to have produced a voluminous record of his political leanings — ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, appearing to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender. Mr. DePape’s blog was registered at the Richmond address where he resided.

Mr. Ciccarelli, who said he was scheduled to work with Mr. DePape on Monday, said he never heard Mr. DePape make racist comments, but said he had become increasingly isolated the last few years and wanted to work less in the carpentry business.

“He was completely caught up in the fantasy, in the MAGA fantasy,” he said.

Over the last few days, Mr. Ciccarelli has struggled to make sense of the news about his friend. “He did a monstrous thing, but he’s not a monster,” he said. “He’s really decent, gentle — it sounds crazy to say gentle — but he was a very gentle soul. But he was going downhill. He went down the rabbit hole.”

Charlie Savage, Alan Feuer and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.

Categories
Selected Articles

Suspect in Pelosi Attack Had Other Targets, Authorities Say

01nat-pelosi-arraignment-1-facebookJumbo

The man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband told the police that he also planned to confront other state and federal politicians.

  • Send any friend a story

    As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.

    Give this articleGive this articleGive this article
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Tim ArangoHolly Secon and Kellen Browning

Nov. 1, 2022Updated 7:47 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO — After an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, leaving him unconscious for three minutes as he lay in a pool of blood, the attacker told the police that he had other targets: a local professor, and several prominent state and federal politicians.

The new details of the attack that police officers say was motivated by the assailant’s desire to take Ms. Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” emerged Tuesday in a court filing, as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges after investigators say he broke into the Pelosi residence last week in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood and demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, the country’s third most powerful politician, who was in Washington at the time.

The filing by local prosecutors on Tuesday provided new and chilling details about the attack, including how Mr. Pelosi, in a terrifying situation, was able to surreptitiously call 911 while he was in the bathroom and the intruder was in the house. It also offers insights into a disturbed man seemingly enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country.

After breaking into the home by busting a glass door on the back porch, the intruder found Mr. Pelosi asleep in his bedroom just after 2 a.m., according to the filing. He demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, and when he was told she wouldn’t be back for days, the suspect said he would wait for her.

Mr. Pelosi, sitting on his bed, asked him why.

“Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” the intruder said, according to the police.

At another point, when Mr. Pelosi asked if he could call anyone for Mr. DePape, the suspect “ominously responded that it was the end of the road for Mr. Pelosi.”

The police said that without any questioning, Mr. DePape told them that he was on a suicide mission. The authorities said he believed he had been captured by home security cameras and recorded on the 911 call, but remain undeterred.

The “defendant’s intent could not have been clearer: he forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” prosecutors wrote as they asked the court to detain Mr. DePape without bail.

The latest filing came a day after federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Mr. DePape that said he directly targeted Ms. Pelosi and intended to make an example of her to other members of Congress.

“I’m sick of the insane fucking level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.,” he told officers at the scene, according to the local filing. “I came to have a little chat with his wife.”

During the 911 call that prompted a dispatcher to send officers, Mr. Pelosi left the phone on speaker and, trying to keep the assailant calm once he realized the police were on the line, was able to gently imply to dispatch that something was amiss.

At one point, “to defuse the situation,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Pelosi told dispatch he didn’t need the police. When dispatch told him to call back if he changed his mind, he said, “No, no, no, this gentleman just uh came into the house uh and he wants to wait for my wife to come home.”

In the days since the attack, those who know Mr. DePape have described a shy man who once seemed to live the lifestyle of a Bay Area hippie but who in recent years fell into homelessness, isolation and darkness, spending his time immersed in an online world of conspiracy theories and bigotry.

About six years ago, according to his most recent employer, Mr. DePape was down on his luck, living under a tree in a park and hanging around outside a lumber store in Berkeley, Calif., looking for work.

“You know how people sit outside and wait for someone to come and offer them work?” recalled Frank Ciccarelli, a carpenter who builds houses and makes furniture. “He was sitting there. So I picked him up. So he started working for me. And he really worked out well.”

For the next several years Mr. Ciccarelli became close to Mr. DePape, even as he worked less and seemed to spend more time online, immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories — right up until a week ago, when he paid Mr. DePape his most recent wages.

Mr. DePape was assigned a public defender, Adam Lipson, to represent him. In comments after Tuesday’s court appearance, Mr. Lipson said Mr. DePape was recently moved to the county jail from a hospital, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder he sustained during the arrest.

Mr. Lipson promised to mount a “vigorous defense” and signaled that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

Mr. Ciccarelli, 76, described Mr. DePape as a quiet person and a diligent worker — an easygoing guy, at least until the topic of politics came up. He said he spent several hours a day with Mr. DePape four or five days a week. “I think I know him better than anyone does.”

Over the six years he has known Mr. DePape, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he witnessed a transformation from a shy and hardworking, but troubled, man into someone who was increasingly isolated and captive to his darkest thoughts.

“If you got him talking about politics, it was all over,” Mr. Ciccarelli recalled in an interview this week. “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line.”

Frank Ciccarelli helped the landlord of Mr. DePape, Malcolm Lubliner, not pictured, remove Mr. DePape’s belongings from a home in Richmond, Calif.Credit…Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Mr. DePape’s sympathies for the most extreme right-wing conspiracy theories are one piece of the growing investigation into his background.

On Monday, Mr. DePape was charged with multiple state and federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Mr. Pelosi, 82, who remains at a local hospital after undergoing surgery. In a statement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her husband, “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

For a time, Mr. DePape, who grew up in British Columbia in Canada and moved to California about two decades ago to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met in Hawaii. For a time, he house-sat for a woman in the East Bay area who ran an urban farm for low-income residents, and sometimes helped take care of the chickens.

But in the years leading up to the attack on the Pelosi family, Mr. DePape seemed to be spending more and more time in the darkest corners of the internet, according to Mr. Ciccarelli. After working together for a few years, Mr. Ciccarelli helped Mr. DePape get away from the streets, moving him into a friend’s garage studio in Richmond, Calif.

“Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer,” Mr. Ciccarelli said. “Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug.”

On Saturday, the F.B.I. raided the garage in Richmond and seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of gloves.

As he spent more time on his computer in recent months, Mr. DePape appeared to have produced a voluminous record of his political leanings — ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, appearing to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender. Mr. DePape’s blog was registered at the Richmond address where he resided.

Mr. Ciccarelli, who said he was scheduled to work with Mr. DePape on Monday, said he never heard Mr. DePape make racist comments, but said he had become increasingly isolated the last few years and wanted to work less in the carpentry business.

“He was completely caught up in the fantasy, in the MAGA fantasy,” he said.

Over the last few days, Mr. Ciccarelli has struggled to make sense of the news about his friend. “He did a monstrous thing, but he’s not a monster,” he said. “He’s really decent, gentle — it sounds crazy to say gentle — but he was a very gentle soul. But he was going downhill. He went down the rabbit hole.”

Charlie Savage, Alan Feuer and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.

Categories
Selected Articles

Suspect in Pelosi Attack Had Other Targets, Authorities Say

01nat-pelosi-arraignment-1-facebookJumbo

The man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband told the police that he also planned to confront other state and federal politicians.

  • Send any friend a story

    As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.

    Give this articleGive this articleGive this article
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Tim ArangoHolly Secon and Kellen Browning

Nov. 1, 2022Updated 7:47 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO — After an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, leaving him unconscious for three minutes as he lay in a pool of blood, the attacker told the police that he had other targets: a local professor, and several prominent state and federal politicians.

The new details of the attack that police officers say was motivated by the assailant’s desire to take Ms. Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” emerged Tuesday in a court filing, as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges after investigators say he broke into the Pelosi residence last week in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood and demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, the country’s third most powerful politician, who was in Washington at the time.

The filing by local prosecutors on Tuesday provided new and chilling details about the attack, including how Mr. Pelosi, in a terrifying situation, was able to surreptitiously call 911 while he was in the bathroom and the intruder was in the house. It also offers insights into a disturbed man seemingly enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country.

After breaking into the home by busting a glass door on the back porch, the intruder found Mr. Pelosi asleep in his bedroom just after 2 a.m., according to the filing. He demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, and when he was told she wouldn’t be back for days, the suspect said he would wait for her.

Mr. Pelosi, sitting on his bed, asked him why.

“Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” the intruder said, according to the police.

At another point, when Mr. Pelosi asked if he could call anyone for Mr. DePape, the suspect “ominously responded that it was the end of the road for Mr. Pelosi.”

The police said that without any questioning, Mr. DePape told them that he was on a suicide mission. The authorities said he believed he had been captured by home security cameras and recorded on the 911 call, but remain undeterred.

The “defendant’s intent could not have been clearer: he forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” prosecutors wrote as they asked the court to detain Mr. DePape without bail.

The latest filing came a day after federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Mr. DePape that said he directly targeted Ms. Pelosi and intended to make an example of her to other members of Congress.

“I’m sick of the insane fucking level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.,” he told officers at the scene, according to the local filing. “I came to have a little chat with his wife.”

During the 911 call that prompted a dispatcher to send officers, Mr. Pelosi left the phone on speaker and, trying to keep the assailant calm once he realized the police were on the line, was able to gently imply to dispatch that something was amiss.

At one point, “to defuse the situation,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Pelosi told dispatch he didn’t need the police. When dispatch told him to call back if he changed his mind, he said, “No, no, no, this gentleman just uh came into the house uh and he wants to wait for my wife to come home.”

In the days since the attack, those who know Mr. DePape have described a shy man who once seemed to live the lifestyle of a Bay Area hippie but who in recent years fell into homelessness, isolation and darkness, spending his time immersed in an online world of conspiracy theories and bigotry.

About six years ago, according to his most recent employer, Mr. DePape was down on his luck, living under a tree in a park and hanging around outside a lumber store in Berkeley, Calif., looking for work.

“You know how people sit outside and wait for someone to come and offer them work?” recalled Frank Ciccarelli, a carpenter who builds houses and makes furniture. “He was sitting there. So I picked him up. So he started working for me. And he really worked out well.”

For the next several years Mr. Ciccarelli became close to Mr. DePape, even as he worked less and seemed to spend more time online, immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories — right up until a week ago, when he paid Mr. DePape his most recent wages.

Mr. DePape was assigned a public defender, Adam Lipson, to represent him. In comments after Tuesday’s court appearance, Mr. Lipson said Mr. DePape was recently moved to the county jail from a hospital, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder he sustained during the arrest.

Mr. Lipson promised to mount a “vigorous defense” and signaled that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

Mr. Ciccarelli, 76, described Mr. DePape as a quiet person and a diligent worker — an easygoing guy, at least until the topic of politics came up. He said he spent several hours a day with Mr. DePape four or five days a week. “I think I know him better than anyone does.”

Over the six years he has known Mr. DePape, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he witnessed a transformation from a shy and hardworking, but troubled, man into someone who was increasingly isolated and captive to his darkest thoughts.

“If you got him talking about politics, it was all over,” Mr. Ciccarelli recalled in an interview this week. “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line.”

Frank Ciccarelli helped the landlord of Mr. DePape, Malcolm Lubliner, not pictured, remove Mr. DePape’s belongings from a home in Richmond, Calif.Credit…Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Mr. DePape’s sympathies for the most extreme right-wing conspiracy theories are one piece of the growing investigation into his background.

On Monday, Mr. DePape was charged with multiple state and federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Mr. Pelosi, 82, who remains at a local hospital after undergoing surgery. In a statement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her husband, “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

For a time, Mr. DePape, who grew up in British Columbia in Canada and moved to California about two decades ago to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met in Hawaii. For a time, he house-sat for a woman in the East Bay area who ran an urban farm for low-income residents, and sometimes helped take care of the chickens.

But in the years leading up to the attack on the Pelosi family, Mr. DePape seemed to be spending more and more time in the darkest corners of the internet, according to Mr. Ciccarelli. After working together for a few years, Mr. Ciccarelli helped Mr. DePape get away from the streets, moving him into a friend’s garage studio in Richmond, Calif.

“Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer,” Mr. Ciccarelli said. “Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug.”

On Saturday, the F.B.I. raided the garage in Richmond and seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of gloves.

As he spent more time on his computer in recent months, Mr. DePape appeared to have produced a voluminous record of his political leanings — ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, appearing to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender. Mr. DePape’s blog was registered at the Richmond address where he resided.

Mr. Ciccarelli, who said he was scheduled to work with Mr. DePape on Monday, said he never heard Mr. DePape make racist comments, but said he had become increasingly isolated the last few years and wanted to work less in the carpentry business.

“He was completely caught up in the fantasy, in the MAGA fantasy,” he said.

Over the last few days, Mr. Ciccarelli has struggled to make sense of the news about his friend. “He did a monstrous thing, but he’s not a monster,” he said. “He’s really decent, gentle — it sounds crazy to say gentle — but he was a very gentle soul. But he was going downhill. He went down the rabbit hole.”

Charlie Savage, Alan Feuer and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.

Categories
Selected Articles

Suspect in Pelosi Attack Had Other Targets, Authorities Say

01nat-pelosi-arraignment-1-facebookJumbo

The man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband told the police that he also planned to confront other state and federal politicians.

  • Send any friend a story

    As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.

    Give this articleGive this articleGive this article
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Tim ArangoHolly Secon and Kellen Browning

Nov. 1, 2022Updated 7:47 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO — After an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, leaving him unconscious for three minutes as he lay in a pool of blood, the attacker told the police that he had other targets: a local professor, and several prominent state and federal politicians.

The new details of the attack that police officers say was motivated by the assailant’s desire to take Ms. Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” emerged Tuesday in a court filing, as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges after investigators say he broke into the Pelosi residence last week in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood and demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, the country’s third most powerful politician, who was in Washington at the time.

The filing by local prosecutors on Tuesday provided new and chilling details about the attack, including how Mr. Pelosi, in a terrifying situation, was able to surreptitiously call 911 while he was in the bathroom and the intruder was in the house. It also offers insights into a disturbed man seemingly enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country.

After breaking into the home by busting a glass door on the back porch, the intruder found Mr. Pelosi asleep in his bedroom just after 2 a.m., according to the filing. He demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, and when he was told she wouldn’t be back for days, the suspect said he would wait for her.

Mr. Pelosi, sitting on his bed, asked him why.

“Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” the intruder said, according to the police.

At another point, when Mr. Pelosi asked if he could call anyone for Mr. DePape, the suspect “ominously responded that it was the end of the road for Mr. Pelosi.”

The police said that without any questioning, Mr. DePape told them that he was on a suicide mission. The authorities said he believed he had been captured by home security cameras and recorded on the 911 call, but remain undeterred.

The “defendant’s intent could not have been clearer: he forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” prosecutors wrote as they asked the court to detain Mr. DePape without bail.

The latest filing came a day after federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Mr. DePape that said he directly targeted Ms. Pelosi and intended to make an example of her to other members of Congress.

“I’m sick of the insane fucking level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.,” he told officers at the scene, according to the local filing. “I came to have a little chat with his wife.”

During the 911 call that prompted a dispatcher to send officers, Mr. Pelosi left the phone on speaker and, trying to keep the assailant calm once he realized the police were on the line, was able to gently imply to dispatch that something was amiss.

At one point, “to defuse the situation,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Pelosi told dispatch he didn’t need the police. When dispatch told him to call back if he changed his mind, he said, “No, no, no, this gentleman just uh came into the house uh and he wants to wait for my wife to come home.”

In the days since the attack, those who know Mr. DePape have described a shy man who once seemed to live the lifestyle of a Bay Area hippie but who in recent years fell into homelessness, isolation and darkness, spending his time immersed in an online world of conspiracy theories and bigotry.

About six years ago, according to his most recent employer, Mr. DePape was down on his luck, living under a tree in a park and hanging around outside a lumber store in Berkeley, Calif., looking for work.

“You know how people sit outside and wait for someone to come and offer them work?” recalled Frank Ciccarelli, a carpenter who builds houses and makes furniture. “He was sitting there. So I picked him up. So he started working for me. And he really worked out well.”

For the next several years Mr. Ciccarelli became close to Mr. DePape, even as he worked less and seemed to spend more time online, immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories — right up until a week ago, when he paid Mr. DePape his most recent wages.

Mr. DePape was assigned a public defender, Adam Lipson, to represent him. In comments after Tuesday’s court appearance, Mr. Lipson said Mr. DePape was recently moved to the county jail from a hospital, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder he sustained during the arrest.

Mr. Lipson promised to mount a “vigorous defense” and signaled that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

Mr. Ciccarelli, 76, described Mr. DePape as a quiet person and a diligent worker — an easygoing guy, at least until the topic of politics came up. He said he spent several hours a day with Mr. DePape four or five days a week. “I think I know him better than anyone does.”

Over the six years he has known Mr. DePape, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he witnessed a transformation from a shy and hardworking, but troubled, man into someone who was increasingly isolated and captive to his darkest thoughts.

“If you got him talking about politics, it was all over,” Mr. Ciccarelli recalled in an interview this week. “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line.”

Frank Ciccarelli helped the landlord of Mr. DePape, Malcolm Lubliner, not pictured, remove Mr. DePape’s belongings from a home in Richmond, Calif.Credit…Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Mr. DePape’s sympathies for the most extreme right-wing conspiracy theories are one piece of the growing investigation into his background.

On Monday, Mr. DePape was charged with multiple state and federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Mr. Pelosi, 82, who remains at a local hospital after undergoing surgery. In a statement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her husband, “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

For a time, Mr. DePape, who grew up in British Columbia in Canada and moved to California about two decades ago to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met in Hawaii. For a time, he house-sat for a woman in the East Bay area who ran an urban farm for low-income residents, and sometimes helped take care of the chickens.

But in the years leading up to the attack on the Pelosi family, Mr. DePape seemed to be spending more and more time in the darkest corners of the internet, according to Mr. Ciccarelli. After working together for a few years, Mr. Ciccarelli helped Mr. DePape get away from the streets, moving him into a friend’s garage studio in Richmond, Calif.

“Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer,” Mr. Ciccarelli said. “Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug.”

On Saturday, the F.B.I. raided the garage in Richmond and seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of gloves.

As he spent more time on his computer in recent months, Mr. DePape appeared to have produced a voluminous record of his political leanings — ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, appearing to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender. Mr. DePape’s blog was registered at the Richmond address where he resided.

Mr. Ciccarelli, who said he was scheduled to work with Mr. DePape on Monday, said he never heard Mr. DePape make racist comments, but said he had become increasingly isolated the last few years and wanted to work less in the carpentry business.

“He was completely caught up in the fantasy, in the MAGA fantasy,” he said.

Over the last few days, Mr. Ciccarelli has struggled to make sense of the news about his friend. “He did a monstrous thing, but he’s not a monster,” he said. “He’s really decent, gentle — it sounds crazy to say gentle — but he was a very gentle soul. But he was going downhill. He went down the rabbit hole.”

Charlie Savage, Alan Feuer and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.

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Suspect in Pelosi Attack Had Other Targets, Authorities Say

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The man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband told the police that he also planned to confront other state and federal politicians.

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District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins and Chief Bill Scott of the San Francisco Police Department announced the state’s charges against David DePape.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

By Tim ArangoHolly Secon and Kellen Browning

Nov. 1, 2022Updated 7:47 p.m. ET

SAN FRANCISCO — After an intruder broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and bludgeoned her husband with a hammer, leaving him unconscious for three minutes as he lay in a pool of blood, the attacker told the police that he had other targets: a local professor, and several prominent state and federal politicians.

The new details of the attack that police officers say was motivated by the assailant’s desire to take Ms. Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied” emerged Tuesday in a court filing, as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

David DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty to several state felony charges after investigators say he broke into the Pelosi residence last week in the well-to-do Pacific Heights neighborhood and demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, the country’s third most powerful politician, who was in Washington at the time.

The filing by local prosecutors on Tuesday provided new and chilling details about the attack, including how Mr. Pelosi, in a terrifying situation, was able to surreptitiously call 911 while he was in the bathroom and the intruder was in the house. It also offers insights into a disturbed man seemingly enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country.

After breaking into the home by busting a glass door on the back porch, the intruder found Mr. Pelosi asleep in his bedroom just after 2 a.m., according to the filing. He demanded to see Ms. Pelosi, and when he was told she wouldn’t be back for days, the suspect said he would wait for her.

Mr. Pelosi, sitting on his bed, asked him why.

“Well, she’s No. 2 in line for the presidency, right?” the intruder said, according to the police.

At another point, when Mr. Pelosi asked if he could call anyone for Mr. DePape, the suspect “ominously responded that it was the end of the road for Mr. Pelosi.”

The police said that without any questioning, Mr. DePape told them that he was on a suicide mission. The authorities said he believed he had been captured by home security cameras and recorded on the 911 call, but remain undeterred.

The “defendant’s intent could not have been clearer: he forced his way into the Pelosi home intending to take the person third in line to the presidency of the United States hostage and to seriously harm her,” prosecutors wrote as they asked the court to detain Mr. DePape without bail.

The latest filing came a day after federal prosecutors filed a complaint against Mr. DePape that said he directly targeted Ms. Pelosi and intended to make an example of her to other members of Congress.

“I’m sick of the insane fucking level of lies coming out of Washington, D.C.,” he told officers at the scene, according to the local filing. “I came to have a little chat with his wife.”

During the 911 call that prompted a dispatcher to send officers, Mr. Pelosi left the phone on speaker and, trying to keep the assailant calm once he realized the police were on the line, was able to gently imply to dispatch that something was amiss.

At one point, “to defuse the situation,” prosecutors wrote, Mr. Pelosi told dispatch he didn’t need the police. When dispatch told him to call back if he changed his mind, he said, “No, no, no, this gentleman just uh came into the house uh and he wants to wait for my wife to come home.”

In the days since the attack, those who know Mr. DePape have described a shy man who once seemed to live the lifestyle of a Bay Area hippie but who in recent years fell into homelessness, isolation and darkness, spending his time immersed in an online world of conspiracy theories and bigotry.

About six years ago, according to his most recent employer, Mr. DePape was down on his luck, living under a tree in a park and hanging around outside a lumber store in Berkeley, Calif., looking for work.

“You know how people sit outside and wait for someone to come and offer them work?” recalled Frank Ciccarelli, a carpenter who builds houses and makes furniture. “He was sitting there. So I picked him up. So he started working for me. And he really worked out well.”

For the next several years Mr. Ciccarelli became close to Mr. DePape, even as he worked less and seemed to spend more time online, immersed in right-wing conspiracy theories — right up until a week ago, when he paid Mr. DePape his most recent wages.

Mr. DePape was assigned a public defender, Adam Lipson, to represent him. In comments after Tuesday’s court appearance, Mr. Lipson said Mr. DePape was recently moved to the county jail from a hospital, where he was treated for a dislocated shoulder he sustained during the arrest.

Mr. Lipson promised to mount a “vigorous defense” and signaled that one possible strategy could be to highlight his client’s “vulnerability” to the misinformation and conspiracy theories that have become so prominent in American political life.

Mr. Ciccarelli, 76, described Mr. DePape as a quiet person and a diligent worker — an easygoing guy, at least until the topic of politics came up. He said he spent several hours a day with Mr. DePape four or five days a week. “I think I know him better than anyone does.”

Over the six years he has known Mr. DePape, Mr. Ciccarelli said, he witnessed a transformation from a shy and hardworking, but troubled, man into someone who was increasingly isolated and captive to his darkest thoughts.

“If you got him talking about politics, it was all over,” Mr. Ciccarelli recalled in an interview this week. “Because he really believed in the whole MAGA, ‘Pizzagate,’ stolen election — you know, all of it, all the way down the line.”

Frank Ciccarelli helped the landlord of Mr. DePape, Malcolm Lubliner, not pictured, remove Mr. DePape’s belongings from a home in Richmond, Calif.Credit…Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Mr. DePape’s sympathies for the most extreme right-wing conspiracy theories are one piece of the growing investigation into his background.

On Monday, Mr. DePape was charged with multiple state and federal felonies, including the attempted murder of Mr. Pelosi, 82, who remains at a local hospital after undergoing surgery. In a statement on Monday, Ms. Pelosi said her husband, “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

For a time, Mr. DePape, who grew up in British Columbia in Canada and moved to California about two decades ago to pursue a relationship with a woman he had met in Hawaii. For a time, he house-sat for a woman in the East Bay area who ran an urban farm for low-income residents, and sometimes helped take care of the chickens.

But in the years leading up to the attack on the Pelosi family, Mr. DePape seemed to be spending more and more time in the darkest corners of the internet, according to Mr. Ciccarelli. After working together for a few years, Mr. Ciccarelli helped Mr. DePape get away from the streets, moving him into a friend’s garage studio in Richmond, Calif.

“Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer,” Mr. Ciccarelli said. “Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug.”

On Saturday, the F.B.I. raided the garage in Richmond and seized two hammers, a sword and a pair of gloves.

As he spent more time on his computer in recent months, Mr. DePape appeared to have produced a voluminous record of his political leanings — ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, appearing to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender. Mr. DePape’s blog was registered at the Richmond address where he resided.

Mr. Ciccarelli, who said he was scheduled to work with Mr. DePape on Monday, said he never heard Mr. DePape make racist comments, but said he had become increasingly isolated the last few years and wanted to work less in the carpentry business.

“He was completely caught up in the fantasy, in the MAGA fantasy,” he said.

Over the last few days, Mr. Ciccarelli has struggled to make sense of the news about his friend. “He did a monstrous thing, but he’s not a monster,” he said. “He’s really decent, gentle — it sounds crazy to say gentle — but he was a very gentle soul. But he was going downhill. He went down the rabbit hole.”

Charlie Savage, Alan Feuer and Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.