Paul Pelosi recovers as attack renews focus on toxic politics
Nancy Pelosi made her first public comments about it Saturday night in a Dear Colleague letter to members of Congress, referencing how “an abusive man broke into our family home, demanded to confront me, and brutally 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 helps Paul move forward in his recovery.” The letter made no political attack but quoted a Bible verse from Isaiah 41:10 which begins “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, 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 lies, political conspiracy theories like QAnon and fringe rants from various right-wing sites.
The Washington Post confirmed that a voluminous blog written under DePape’s name was filled with deeply anti-Semitic writing and baseless claims as well as pro-Donald Trump and anti-Democratic messaging. It was recorded at a home in Richmond, Calif., where DePape lives, according to neighbors.
The alleged attacker filled his blog with delusional thoughts days before the attack
“We’re on a very slippery slope and I think the whole issue of security needs reconsideration,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), who represents a San Bay neighborhood. Francisco close to Pelosi and is the speaker’s closest friend in Congress.
“This needs to stop,” Eshoo said, referring to the spread of inaccurate conspiracy theories that appear to be fueling fury at lawmakers. She said her constituents “are surprised we’re queuing, going through security – they think every one of us has security.”
Representative Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Colorado, said the attack highlights the lack of safeguards for lawmakers’ family members who may be targets.
“This is Paul Pelosi, all alone at home,” she said in an interview.
DeGette said she had a security detail when she 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 United States Capitol Police, the agency responsible for protecting members of Congress, has reported a sharp increase in threats against lawmakers in recent years, and threats have escalated sharply since the January 6, 2021 attack on Capitol. He said the number of cases involving threats against members of Congress rose from around 4,000 in 2017 to more than 9,600 last year.
The growing use of campaign ads invoking hunting images and other heated rhetoric against opponents is leading candidates to impose tighter security this election season.
While unsuccessfully defending her primary seat this year in Wyoming, Rep. Liz Cheney (R) simply couldn’t organize 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 January 6, 2021 attack after President Donald Trump called out her name during his rally earlier in the day because she led the House Republican wing supporting certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
She used a former Secret Service agent as personal security to get to and from the Capitol that day, and Cheney — who played a prominent role on the Jan. 6 committee — has regular security. of the Capitol Police since the beginning of 2021.
Other campaigns, including that of Democrat John Fetterman, running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, announced the city or region in which he will campaign in advance to generate interest from supporters and the media. 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 emitted at the full throat reproaches of the attack on Paul Pelosi. But other GOP members — who have often demonized Pelosi in his political attacks — seized on the incident as a way to mock the Speaker of the House or taunt Democrats.
“I’m very disappointed with the lukewarm response from the other side,” DeGette said. “Some condemned it, but others remained silent or made a political joke out of it.”
She pitted the latest muted comments against bipartisan unity after House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot dead in 2017 by a gunman during a baseball practice in Congress, when “everyone across the spectrum doomed him”.
A month after the 2017 shootings at the practice, the Federal Election Commission issued guidelines that allowed lawmakers to spend campaign funds on security, specifically on upgrading or installing security systems in public buildings. residences or offices.
Mike Loychik, a Republican state representative from Ohio, called the political violence “unacceptable” but went on to mock calls from some Democrats to invest more money in social services rather than in the police, Tweeter: “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 of California called the attack on Paul Pelosi “wrong”, saying in an interview on Breitbart Radio on Saturday that he had texted the speaker to offer his “Prayers for Paul”. But he quickly turned to one of Republicans’ most popular lines of attack on Democrats, blaming their supposed support of “unfunded police” and “woke ADs” for crimes like assault on Paul Pelosi.
Attack on husband follows years of GOP demonizing Nancy Pelosi
President Biden on Saturday called on the conspiracies and lies promulgated by politicians to stop.
“It’s one thing to condemn violence. But you can’t condemn the violence unless you condemn these people who argue the election isn’t real,” Biden said in comments to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware. “The conversation has to stop. This is the problem.”
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott declined to speculate on the motive for the attack on Paul Pelosi. But it appears the attacker was looking for the speaker and he said, “Where’s Nancy?”, according to a person briefed on the case.
“It was not a random act. It was intentional,” Scott told reporters on Friday.
DePape should be charged with attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and burglary, among other offenses, according to Scott.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said on Twitter that charges would be laid on Monday and that DePape should be arraigned on Tuesday.
What we know about the Paul Pelosi bombing and suspect David DePape
Former President Barack Obama invoked the attack on Paul Pelosi at a rally on Saturday, warning that more people “could be hurt” and that democracy could suffer unless politicians iron out furious divisions.
“If our rhetoric about each other gets so mean, when we don’t just disagree with people, when we start demonizing them, making wild, crazy allegations about them, it creates a dangerous climate,” he told the crowd in Detroit at a political rally for several Democratic candidates in the state.
He said that while officials don’t reject violent rhetoric, “if they tacitly support it or encourage their supporters to stand up next to polling stations armed with guns, dressed in tactical gear, more people can get hurt – and we’re going to be violating the fundamental spirit of this country.” He was then interrupted by a man shouting in the crowd, but Obama urged attendees not to be “distracted” and to focus on the vote.
John J. Pitney Jr., professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., said Americans have had heated political differences since the country began. But social media has turned up the heat and allowed various conspiracy theories involving QAnon, vaccines and other topics to mingle, with many of the same people believing them all, he said in an interview.
Pitney said the threat of violence will prompt many lawmakers to change the way they do business — moving interactions with voters online, for example.
Michigan Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, said in an interview in Detroit that he urged candidates “to make sure you have situational awareness, situational awareness when you attend campaign events and keep your eyes peeled for people with malicious intent.
“I just have to be very aware of the space,” he said of his personal safety issues. “You can’t be a representative unless you talk to people and listen to their problems.”
But he acknowledged the strain that public discourse has put on the job.
“We have to be out there, keep our eyes open and try to be as safe as possible,” he said.
Aaron C. Davis, Dalton Bennett, Cate Brown, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Dylan Wells and Annie Linskey contributed to this report.