The man charged in the attack on Paul Pelosi turns to conspiracy theories during the federal trial

FILE – David DePape, right, records Gypsy Taub’s nude wedding outside City Hall on December 1. 19, 2013, in San Francisco. DePape, who was already in custody in last month’s attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, on charges of assault and attempted kidnapping. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, file)
(Eric Risberg/AP)

The man charged in the attack on Paul Pelosi turns to conspiracy theories during the federal trial

California Politics

Hannah Wiley

November 14, 2023

David DePape, the man accused of attempted kidnapping


US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who last year attacked her husband after he broke into the couple’s home, described his descent into political extremism and belief in conspiracy theories during his testimony Tuesday in the federal trial against him .

DePape, 43, explained that long before he broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home in the early morning of October. On August 28, 2022, with plans to have the lawmaker confess to corruption within the Democratic Party, he considered himself politically left-leaning. He thought September 11 was an “inside job” during former President George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House, he said, and at one point he maintained a “very strong anti-Trump bias,” believing that the former president was a puppet. of the ruling class and Wall Street.

That all changed when DePape spent entire days surfing the Internet watching YouTube and listening to right-wing political podcasts while playing video games in a garage he called home in Richmond, north of Oakland. His favorite podcasters

including right-wing pundit Tim Pool

and James Lindsay, a conservative influencer described by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center as a promoter of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and “conspiracy theories about the supposed communist takeover of the world.”

DePape explained that his first foray into America’s “culture war” was through Gamergate. a right-wing intimidation campaign against women and journalists in the gaming industry. From there, he turned his attention to mainstream media coverage of former President Trump and what he perceived as corruption within the Democratic Party.

A man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi and fueling right-wing conspiracies faces a jury in San Francisco

“Everything from the press was a lie about Trump,” he said.

His hour-long testimony rambled through a series of conspiracy theories

none of which was supported by evidence.

He mentioned Russiagate, a belief reflected in the investigation

go inside

Russian election interference was one

Deep state

‘Deep State’ Attempt to Destroy Trump’s Presidency .

raised together with Him

debunked sex trafficking conspiracy known as Pizzagate, saying “the ruling class, the cabal, the people who control us and control the media” are killing the “tree of freedom.”

and were involved in tyranny.

While listening to a right-wing podcast, DePape heard about an unknown woman listed in the lawsuits as “Target 1” and described at trial as an anthropologist and professor of women and gender.


study at the University of Michigan. Her work has sparked debate among feminists and the LGBTQ+ community, particularly around age of consent laws, and DePape said he believed the professor’s research promoted pedophilia and the molestation of children.

He planned to go to the professor’s home in San Francisco that October morning, tested it, but said he considered the Pelosis’ home a more accessible starting point. He planned to question the lawmaker

at approximately

QAnon conspiracy theories and allegations of corruption that he said implicated the Democratic Party and various elected officials and public figures.

When Nancy Pelosi lied to him, DePape said, he intended to “break her kneecaps.” He also hoped lawmakers could help lure Target 1 out so he could “expose the truth.” After that, he planned to focus on Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had recently signed a gun control bill into law.

Gamergate controversy reveals the ugly side of the gaming community

“Anyone who is trampling on Second Amendment rights should be on the list,” DePape said.

DePape said the figures who caught his attention extended beyond California and across the country, including actor Tom Hanks,


Representative Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), billionaire philanthropist George Soros and Hunter Biden, the president’s son

all the people he believed contributed to corruption within the Democratic Party

who he believed

was guilty of child abuse and human trafficking. Search

conspiracy theories that

are not supported by facts.

DePape said he wanted to get it


Biden ‘to expose the corruption against his father’. With an unclear and ambiguous end goal, he would get everyone on the list to confess to their crimes so that the president could pardon them all.

The plan was thwarted after he came across a sleeping Paul Pelosi in the couple’s home.

DePape’s testimony largely matched the harrowing details


Pelosi explained in court Monday the fear he felt in the minutes between the burglary, his 911 call and when police responded to the scene shortly after 2:30 a.m.


Pelosi told DePape that his wife was in Washington and would not be home for days. DePape said he would wait for her and tie her up


Pelosi got up so he could get some sleep in the meantime.

DePape said he called that in addition to 911


Pelosi made it clear that the two men got along well and that he had no intention of attacking the 82-year-old man.

“I didn’t want this to escalate into something where he would get hurt,” he said, adding that at one point he admitted


Pelosi a “squeeze on the shoulder, just for reassurance.”

Paul Pelosi testifies that he knew he was in ‘grave danger’ before the hammer attack

DePape faces a combined prison sentence of 50 years if convicted of the two federal charges. But the matter is far from simple.

The conviction is contingent on prosecutors proving beyond a reasonable doubt that DePape intended to kidnap Speaker Pelosi “in pursuance of or in the course of the performance of her official duties.”


‘Prosecutors must also demonstrate


that the attack was committed in an attempt to “obstruct, intimidate, or interfere” or in retaliation for the legislature’s official duties.

Prosecutors have focused their case on comments DePape made in police body camera footage and in interviews after the attack. He told Lt. Carla Hurley that he had plans to break Speaker Pelosi’s kneecaps so she would have to drive herself to Congress, where other lawmakers could see the consequences of her being one of the most evil people on the planet . He told a reporter in a recorded conversation


this year that he regretted not being successful in his mission and that he “didn’t get more of it.”

Despite public questions about DePape’s mental capacity, his attorneys did not make that argument at trial.

Instead, they focused their case on DePape’s conspiracies, claiming he was driven not to attack Paul Pelosi or kidnap his wife, but to end a broader scheme of corruption and other crimes by the Democratic Party and its cronies.

Jurors, many of us don’t believe that. We think it’s fake, federal public defender Jodi Linker told the jury


Thursday. You may think it’s all lies, harmful lies that are actually destroying the country. …But the evidence in this trial will show that Mr. DePape believes these things, he believes them with every ounce of his being. He believes them firmly and completely, and it is these beliefs, which have absolutely nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi’s official duties to Congress, that led him to act that evening.

Suspect in attack on Paul Pelosi believes in conspiracies but did not try to kidnap Speaker of the House of Representatives, lawyer says

On the stand, DePape dismissed the idea that he traveled to the Pelosi House for kidnapping, saying he would do so.


only broke Speaker Pelosi’s kneecaps if she lied to him.

“The choice is hers,” he said. “There is an alternative path to a solution that does not involve violence.”

He also disputed the argument that he hammered Paul Pelosi over his wife’s role in Congress. He said he responded after police arrived at the home

Because my plan was basically ruined.”

“When he was breathing on the ground, I was really scared for his life,” he said. “And later in the hospital I felt very bad for him, because we had a very good understanding and things were going very well until the very last second.”

The attorneys are expected to make their closing arguments in the case on Wednesday.


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