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David DePape, who attacked Nancy Pelosi's husband, is charged with attempted murder


David DePape will make his first appearance in court today. He's accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home in San Francisco on Friday and attacking her husband, Paul, with a hammer, fracturing his skull.


Paul Pelosi is recovering from his injuries. The suspect, DePape, has given a statement to investigators, and he told police he wanted to break Nancy Pelosi's kneecaps. San Francisco district attorney Brooke Jenkins says the attack was politically motivated.


BROOKE JENKINS: What is clear, based on the evidence that we have thus far, is that this house and the speaker herself were specifically targets of the defendant.

INSKEEP: The DA charged DePape with attempted murder, and he is also facing federal charges of attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official.

MARTÍNEZ: Member station KQED's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez is in San Francisco. He joins us now. DePape is facing charges from the city of San Francisco and the DOJ. Joe, what more do we know about what happened and what his intentions were?

JOE FITZGERALD RODRIGUEZ, BYLINE: Yeah. New charging documents told us a lot more about what happened that night. Monday, we got confirmation from the Department of Justice that DePape's true intention was to kidnap Speaker Nancy Pelosi, torture her and see her rolled in a wheelchair in front of Congress. Charging documents revealed he had zip ties he intended to use to restrain Paul Pelosi, along with rope, a roll of tape, an extra hammer and a pair each of rubber and cloth gloves.

MARTÍNEZ: Wow. All right. So where's DePape from? What's his digital history?

RODRIGUEZ: DePape isn't from San Francisco. He lives in a nearby city called Richmond. He attended pro-nudism rallies in 2012 in San Francisco with noted local nudist activists. And while that may make him sound like a bit of a San Francisco hippie, blogs he published online show he took a rightward turn in recent years, embracing QAnon conspiracy theories. That connects with what he told police after the attack. He said he was punishing Speaker Pelosi for what he called Democratic Party lies.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So what's next for DePape? What's he facing now and that - now that he's been charged?

RODRIGUEZ: So today will be his first day in court. The public hasn't seen DePape in person since the attack. More evidence might materialize today. A journal was recovered among his belongings, and it may shed more light on his motivations. We also haven't seen the police-worn body camera footage of the incident. According to charging documents, he swung his hammer and struck Paul Pelosi right in front of officers. Yesterday, DA Jenkins described what police saw. First, Pelosi and DePape struggled over a hammer, each with a hand on it.


JENKINS: The defendant then pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently struck him in the top of his head. The police then immediately apprehended the defendant.

RODRIGUEZ: Jenkins believes DePape is a danger to the public and asked the court to hold him without bail.

MARTÍNEZ: You know, we've seen and heard political leaders from both parties condemn the attack. But the reaction from the fringes, Joe, it's kind of been out there.

RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Conspiracy theories have run rampant in right-wing circles after the attack on Pelosi, mostly seizing on early news reports that were later found to be largely inaccurate. DA Jenkins laid out facts that run counter to these conspiracy theories.


JENKINS: He forced his way into the home through a rear glass door by breaking that glass.

RODRIGUEZ: That countered one conspiracy theory that Paul Pelosi let the assailant in. He didn't.

MARTÍNEZ: That's member station KQED's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez in San Francisco. Joe, thanks.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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