The man who is alleged to have attacked Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, could have federal charges filed against him by the US attorney in San Francisco as soon as Monday, two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
The federal charges against David DePape, 42, are expected to include threatening or injuring the family member of a federal official and a charge pertaining to attempted kidnapping, according to a law enforcement official.
Paul Pelosi was interviewed this weekend at the hospital by investigators and was able to provide details of the attack, two law enforcement sources and a source familiar with the matter tell CNN.
Among those conducting the interview were FBI and local law enforcement investigators.
DePape’s alleged motive is not yet known, though police believe DePape was intentional about going into the house, and CNN has reported that he posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The assault has renewed discussions about violent rhetoric directed toward lawmakers, with Democrats calling on Republicans to forcefully condemn extremist language in their camp, as well as concerns about lawmaker safety.
This is what we presently know about the attack.
CNN reported on Sunday that DePape had with him a bag that contained multiple zip ties, among other things, according to two sources who have been briefed on the incident.
In addition to the zip ties, the suspect also had duct tape on him, according to a law enforcement source. The hammer that was used to allegedly assault Pelosi was brought by DePape, according to a law enforcement source and a senior congressional aide briefed on the assault.
Neither source knew of any other weapons found when DePape was detained. CNN has previously reported that DePape allegedly tried to tie up Pelosi.
Police have said that DePape entered the home through a backdoor and it wasn’t clear if he circumvented any security measures.
CNN previously reported that DePape confronted Pelosi and asked where his wife was, shouting, “Where is Nancy?” The speaker was not home at the time of the attack.
Paul Pelosi was able to call 911 at the start of the attack, a law enforcement source and another source familiar with the matter previously said.
San Francisco police entered the home around 2:27 a.m. local time Friday (5:27 a.m. ET) to find Pelosi struggling over a hammer with DePape, according to the city’s police chief. Officers saw DePape “violently assault” Pelosi with the hammer before they tackled him to the ground and arrested him.
The attack, coming in the home stretch of a midterm campaign season in which Nancy Pelosi often has served as the focus of Republican criticism, has renewed concerns about violence directed toward lawmakers, especially in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot.
“What makes us think that one party can talk about ‘stolen elections,’ ‘Covid being a hoax,’ ‘this is all a bunch of lies,’ and it not affect people who may not be so well balanced?” President Joe Biden said on Friday.
“What makes us think that it’s not going to corrode the political climate?”
GOP Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, who is set to become House Oversight Committee chairman if the GOP gains control of the House next year, condemned the attack in comments to CNN on Saturday, and said both Republicans and Democrats need to tone down the political rhetoric while admitting that he, too, could improve in that regard.
“It’s very difficult environment out there. You have a lot of people that get so fired up, because of various political causes. It puts many politicians in a dangerous spot,” he told CNN’s Pamela Brown on “CNN Newsroom.”
Several prominent Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have condemned the attack, though some others – most notably former President Donald Trump – have remained silent.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that the attack was “disgusting,” but dodged questions about election conspiracy theories that were shared by the alleged attacker on social media.
Asked by Bash if his party should do more to reject false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, insurrection that were shared on social media by DePape, Scott did not directly respond.
And Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, the chair of the House GOP campaign arm, condemned violence broadly in an interview with CBS on Sunday, but refused to commit to pulling advertisements targeting Nancy Pelosi.
Emmer also wouldn’t commit to taking down a recent tweet, which included a video of him firing a gun that read, “Enjoyed exercising my Second Amendment rights … Let’s #FirePelosi,” telling CBS that he disagreed that the tweet was dangerous.
A CNN investigation into DePape found that he posted memes and conspiracy theories on Facebook about Covid vaccines, the 2020 election and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Most of the public posts on DePape’s Facebook page were from 2021. In earlier years, DePape also posted long screeds about religion, including claims that “Jesus is the anti christ.” None of the public posts appeared to mention Pelosi.
His stepfather, Gene DePape, said David DePape grew up in Powell River, British Columbia, and left Canada about 20 years ago to pursue a relationship that brought him to California.
People who knew DePape in California described him as an odd character, with one acquaintance, Linda Schneider, a California resident, telling CNN that she had received “really disturbing” emails from DePape in which he sounded like a “megalomaniac and so out of touch with reality.”
She said she stopped communicating with him “because it seemed so dangerous,” adding that she recalled him “using Biblical justification to do harm.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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