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Justice Department charges suspect in Paul Pelosi attack with assault, attempted kidnapping

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Monday filed two charges in federal court against the suspect in Friday’s brutal attack on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Prosecutors charged the suspected assailant, David DePape, 42, with attempted kidnapping and assault with intent to retaliate against a federal official by threatening or injuring a family member.

The complaint alleged that DePape was attempting to kidnap the House speaker when he broke into the San Francisco residence, not realizing that she was in Washington, D.C., and only her husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, was home.

“Pelosi was asleep when DePape came into Pelosi’s bedroom and stated he wanted to talk to ‘Nancy.’ When Pelosi told him that Nancy was not there, DePape stated that he would sit and wait,” the complaint said. The complaint says Paul Pelosi called authorities from the bathroom.

Police recovered zip ties in Pelosi’s bedroom and in the hallway near the front door of the home. In DePape’s backpack, they also found “among other things, a roll of tape, white rope, one hammer, one pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal.”

During an interview police conducted on the day of the attack, DePape said, “He was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her.”

“If Nancy were to tell DePape the ‘truth,’ he would let her go, and if she ‘lied,’ he was going to break ‘her kneecaps'” investigators said in the complaint.

The suspect also told investigators that “by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions.”

The complaint said DePape told police that “he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual” to him, but the complaint didn’t identify that person.  

On Saturday, law enforcement determined that DePape had been living for the last two years in the garage of a residence in Richmond, Calif., just outside of San Francisco. In the garage, “among other things, agents seized two hammers, a sword, and a pair of rubber and cloth gloves,” the complaint said.

The FBI has been working with San Francisco police and the Capitol Police on the investigation into Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi. DePape was not expected to appear in federal court on Monday.

DePape is also expected to appear in court this week on separate state charges. San Francisco police said DePape would be arraigned on charges of attempted homicide, first-degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery with serious bodily injury, elder abuse, threatening a public official, or family member, among others.

Paul Pelosi remained in the intensive care unit surrounded by family members, a source with knowledge of the situation told NBC News early Monday. The FBI, San Francisco police, Capitol Police and the district attorney got his testimony on Sunday, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. The source said he is awake and has all of his cognitive functioning and appeared to remember everything — he told them his version of events.

On Friday, he “underwent successful surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands,” Pelosi’s office said. His doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

Two sources briefed on the investigation said the suspect was searching for the House speaker, who was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the attack. Before the assault occurred, the intruder confronted Paul Pelosi shouting, “Where is Nancy, where is Nancy?”

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said officers arrived at the Pelosi home just before 2:30 a.m. PT and observed “Mr. Pelosi and the suspect both holding a hammer. The suspect pulled the hammer away from Mr. Pelosi and violently assaulted him with it.”

Police tackled the suspect, disarmed him and took him into custody, Scott said. San Francisco police said Sunday that zip ties were found at the scene.

According to a Pelosi family member, the suspect brought the hammer and broke the windows of the Pelosi home facing the backyard. The family member said once inside, the suspect was trying to tie up Paul Pelosi and said they would wait “until Nancy got home.” When the suspect wasn’t looking, Paul called 911. The family member said Paul was home alone and was hit in the head with the hammer multiple times. When the police arrived, the suspect said, “We are waiting for Nancy.”

The suspect appears to have operated a website on which he wrote a wide variety of posts touching on almost all manner of modern conspiracy thinking: aliens, Jewish people, communism, vaccines, voter fraud and many other topics. Two law enforcement officials said an early look at DePape’s online footprint showed recent blog posts that espoused ideas typically associated with far-right extremism along with some liberal anti-establishment ideas.

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