Nancy Pelosi made her first public comments on the matter Saturday night in a Dear Colleague letter to members of Congress, referring to how “a violent man broke into our home, demanded to confront me and viciously attacked my husband Paul.”
She thanked supporters, saying “the outpouring of prayers and warm wishes from so many in Congress is a comfort to our family and is helping Paul move forward in his recovery.” verse from Isaiah 41:10 that begins “Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”
San Francisco police have identified the suspect in the attack as 42-year-old David DePape, who appears to have been deeply drawn to election fraud, political conspiracy theories like QAnon and fringe rants from various places on the right.
The Washington Post confirmed that a voluminous blog written under DePape’s name was filled with deeply anti-Semitic writings and baseless claims, as well as pro-Donald Trump and anti-Democrat posts. He checked into a home in Richmond, Calif., where DePape lives, according to neighbors.
The alleged assailant filled the blog with delusional thoughts days before the attack
“We’re on a very slippery slope, and I think the whole security issue needs a reexamination,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents a San Francisco Bay Area district close to Pelosi and he is the speaker’s closest friend in Congress.
“This has to stop,” Eshoo said, referring to the spread of inaccurate conspiracy theories that appear to be fueling fury toward lawmakers. He said his constituents “are surprised that we stand in line, go through security; they think we all have security.”
Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, said the attack highlights a lack of safeguards for relatives of lawmakers who may be targeted.
“Here was Paul Pelosi, all alone at home,” he said in an interview.
DeGette said he was on a security detail when he was one of eight House members who handled the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump. But her husband had no protection when she was in Washington and he was in Colorado, she said.
The U.S. Capitol Police, the agency tasked with protecting members of Congress, has reported a sharp increase in threats against lawmakers in recent years, and threats have risen sharply since the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. He said the number of cases of threats against members of Congress rose from about 4,000 in 2017 to more than 9,600 last year.
The growing use of campaign ads that invoke images of hunting and other heated rhetoric against opponents is prompting candidates to impose tighter security this election season.
Despite unsuccessfully defending her seat in this year’s Wyoming primary, Rep. Liz Cheney (R) simply couldn’t hold the kind of traditional campaign events meant to demonstrate broad support.
Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has faced a significant number of death threats since the attack on January 6, 2021, after President Donald Trump invoked her name at his rally in that day because he led the Republican wing of the House of Support. certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
He used a former Secret Service agent as personal security to get to and from the Capitol that day, and Cheney, who has played a prominent role on the Jan. 6 committee, has had a regular Capitol Police security detail since early 2021.
Other campaigns, including that of Democrat John Fetterman, who is running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, have announced the particular city or region in which he will campaign in advance to attract support and media interest. Often, however, the exact location and address of the event will not be distributed until the morning of the event.
Some Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate candidate from Pennsylvania Mehmet Oz issued out loud reproaches of the attack on Paul Pelosi. But other GOP members, who have often demonized Pelosi in their policy attacks, seized on the incident as a way to ridicule the House speaker or mock Democrats.
“I’m very disappointed by the lukewarm response from the other side,” DeGette said. “Some people have condemned it, but others have kept quiet or turned it into a political joke.”
He contrasted recent muted comments with bipartisan unity after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot by a gunman during a congressional baseball practice in 2017, when “everybody across the spectrum condemned it.”
A month after the 2017 shooting at the practice, the Federal Election Commission issued guidance allowing lawmakers to spend campaign funds on security, particularly improving or installing security systems in residential homes or offices.
Mike Loychik, a Republican state representative from Ohio, called the political violence “unacceptable” but scoffed at calls from some Democrats to put more money into social services than police . tweeting“I hope San Francisco sent its best social worker to respond to the brutal assault of Nancy Pelosi’s husband.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., called the attack on Paul Pelosi “wrong,” saying in an interview on Breitbart Radio on Saturday that he had texted the speaker to offer their “prayers for Paul.” But he quickly switched to one of Republicans’ most popular lines of attack against Democrats, blaming their alleged support for “underfunded police” and “woke DAs” for crimes like the assault on Paul Pelosi.
The attack on her husband follows years of the GOP demonizing Nancy Pelosi
President Biden on Saturday called for an end to conspiracies and falsehoods promulgated by politicians.
“It is one thing to condemn violence. But you can’t condemn violence unless you condemn those people who argue that the election isn’t real,” Biden said in comments to reporters while in Wilmington, Del. “The talk has to stop. This is the problem”.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott would not speculate on the motive for the attack on Paul Pelosi. But it appears the assailant had been looking for the speaker, and uttered “Where’s Nancy?”, according to a person briefed on the case.
“This was not a random act. This was intentional,” Scott told reporters Friday.
DePape is expected to be charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and theft, among other crimes, according to Scott.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins he said on Twitter that charges will be filed Monday and DePape is expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
What we know about Paul Pelosi’s attack and suspect David DePape
Former President Barack Obama invoked Paul Pelosi’s attack at a rally on Saturday, warning that more people “could get hurt” and that democracy could suffer unless politicians clamp down on raging divisions.
“If our rhetoric about the other has this meaning, when we not only disagree with people, when we start demonizing them, making wild and crazy allegations about them, that creates a dangerous climate,” he told the crowd in Detroit during a political rally for several Democratic candidates in the state.
He said that if officials don’t push back on violent rhetoric, “if they tacitly support it or encourage their supporters to stand up in addition to polling places armed with guns, dressed in tactical gear, more people can get hurt, and we we will stay.” violating the basic spirit of this country.” He was then interrupted by a man shouting in the crowd, but Obama urged those in attendance not to be “distracted” and focus on voting.
John J. Pitney Jr., a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., said Americans have had fiery political differences since the country’s beginning. But social media has turned up the heat and allowed various conspiracy theories involving QAnon, vaccines and other topics to mix, with many of the same people believing them all, he said in an interview.
Pitney said the threat of violence will cause many lawmakers to change the way they do business, for example by moving interactions with constituents online.
Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in an interview in Detroit that he is asking candidates to “make sure you have situational awareness, situational awareness when you’re at campaign events and keep your eyes open for people with nefarious intentions.”
“I just have to be very aware of the space,” he said of his personal safety concerns. “You can’t be a representative unless you’re talking to people and listening to their problems.”
But he acknowledged the strain public speaking has put on the job.
“We’ve got to be out there, we’ve got to keep our eyes open and try to be as safe as we can,” he said.
Aaron C. Davis, Dalton Bennett, Cate Brown, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Dylan Wells and Annie Linskey contributed to this report.