Lawyer for Alleged Pelosi Attacker: 'The Why Matters'

She says David DePape believed conspiracy theories 'with every ounce of his being'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2023 5:46 AM CST
Lawyer for Alleged Pelosi Attacker: 'The Why Matters'
David DePape is shown in Berkeley, Calif., on Dec. 13, 2013.   (Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

The man accused of attacking Nancy Pelosi's husband with a hammer last year went on trial in federal court in San Francisco on Thursday—and David DePape's lawyer said she wouldn't contest the overwhelming evidence against him. The attack on Paul Pelosi was captured on police body camera video and DePape told officers, "There is no denying what I did." Federal public defender Jodi Linker, however, argued that the attack was "wholly unrelated" to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's official duties, meaning the federal charges should not have been filed, CNN reports. "This is not a 'whodunit.' But what the government fails to acknowledge is the 'whydunit,' and the why matters in this case," she said.

Linker said her client was caught up in conspiracy theories and believed "with every ounce of his being" that he was acting to stop child abuse and corruption, the AP reports. DePape faces federal charges including assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and the attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He also faces state charges including attempted murder in connection with the Oct. 28, 2022 attack, which fractured Paul Pelosi's skull. Prosecutors say DePape, a Canadian citizen who had been living illegally in the US for around 20 years, broke into the Pelosis' San Francisco home and attacked the then-82-year-old Paul Pelosi after asking, "Where's Nancy?"

Linker said the attack was motivated by DePape's belief that Nancy Pelosi was part of a wider plot to "manipulate the country, to spread lies, and to steal votes from Donald Trump." She said DePape had a list of other targets, including Tom Hanks, Hunter Biden, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and he only attacked Paul Pelosi in "despair because the police arrived and his larger plan was thwarted," per CNN. A police officer testified Thursday that backpacks found at the scene contained items including a sledgehammer, zip ties, duct tape, a Canadian passport, and two inflatable, multicolor unicorn costumes, the AP reports.

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DePape told police he planned to interrogate Nancy Pelosi and break her kneecaps if she lied to him. The New York Times reports that given the amount of evidence against DePape, it is "something of a surprise" the case went to trial at all. "I think he wants a trial," says former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson. "He wants to use this as his platform, as a showcase for his beliefs." In January, DePape called a reporter to say he was "sorry I didn't get more of them." (More David DePape stories.)

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