Wed. Dec 7th, 2022

Federal prosecutors charged the man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with attempting to kidnap Ms. Pelosi and with assaulting a relative of a federal official, according to charging documents filed on Monday.

The suspect, David DePape, 42, was apprehended by the police in the early morning hours on Friday. The police said he forcibly entered through the back door of the Pelosi house in San Francisco, encountered Ms. Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, 82, and, following a struggle over a hammer, struck him with it.

Mr. DePape was looking for Ms. Pelosi, the authorities said, but she was in Washington at the time. He was carrying “a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and zip ties from the crime scene,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of California, which filed the charges.

The swift action by the Justice Department in bringing federal charges — on the same day the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office was expected to file its own charges against Mr. DePape — reflects the Biden administration’s urgency in addressing what it sees as a politically motivated crime shortly before the 2022 midterm elections. There has been a surge in threats and attacks against figures of both political parties in recent years, and Ms. Pelosi, in particular, has long been the subject of vilification and threats.

Mr. Pelosi, who alerted the police to the break-in with a 911 call, underwent surgery on Friday after sustaining a fractured skull and serious injuries to his hands and right arm, according to a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi. In a letter to colleagues on Saturday, Ms. Pelosi said that Mr. Pelosi was continuing to improve. Law enforcement officials said that Mr. DePape sustained “minor injuries” and was treated at a hospital.

Kidnapping and assault are usually charged under state laws by local authorities, but in certain circumstances they can become federal crimes.

If convicted, Mr. DePape would face a maximum of 20 years in prison for the attempted kidnapping of a federal official in the performance of official duties, and up to 30 years for assaulting an immediate member of a federal official’s family and inflicting a serious injury with a dangerous weapon.

Ms. Pelosi’s spokesman had no comment on the charges.

It was not immediately clear who is representing Mr. DePape in the case.

Federal law makes such an assault a federal crime when it is done “with the intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with” the work of an official or “with intent to retaliate against” that person — a charge that stems from Mr. DePape’s attempts to find the speaker.

Mr. Pelosi remains in the intensive care unit of a San Francisco hospital, surrounded by his family, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The attack on the Pelosi home in San Francisco contained echoes of the Jan. 6, 2021, mob attack on the Capitol. When rioters broke into the halls of Congress on that day, some of them carried zip ties and shouted “Where is Nancy?” When he was apprehended on Friday, Mr. DePape also was carrying zip ties; a person who had been briefed on the attack said Mr. DePape had been loudly demanding to know where Ms. Pelosi was.

Luke Broadwater and Adam Goldman contributed reporting.

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