SAN FRANCISCO — The husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recalled Monday being bludgeoned by a hammer-wielding assailant and waking up in a pool of his own blood.
“The door opened and a very large man came in with a hammer in one hand and some ties in the other and he said, ‘Where’s Nancy’ as I think that woke me up,” Pelosi testified. “I’m asleep and he bursts in the door and that woke me up.”
The suspect, David DePape, has pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official.
Pelosi testified he didn’t set his home’s alarm before going to bed, so there was no warning sound when DePape broke glass of a rear door to enter.
The assailant had a hammer and zip ties and Pelosi said: “I recognized I was in serious danger.”
“He was standing in the doorway and I assume he was 3, 4 feet away from me,” Pelosi testified. “It was a tremendous sense of shock to see somebody broken into the house.”
When Pelosi told his attacker that the House speaker was in Washington, D.C., DePape allegedly said he’d have to tie him up and they’d wait for his return.
Pelosi managed to get his cell phone and call 911 from the bathroom before DePape snatched the phone away, he testified.
The victim said he knew his best chance to survive was getting downstairs to meet responding police and Pelosi testified that he told DePape: “Since all your stuff is downstairs why don’t we go downstairs, you can tie me up and you can get some sleep.”
When officers arrived, Pelosi said he reached for DePape’s hand, with the hammer, before the assailant pushed him away and started hitting him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Vartain asked Pelosi what he remembered next and he said: “Waking up in a pool of blood.”
Before Pelosi took the stand on Monday, prosecutors showed jurors police body camera footage of the attack, in which the victim was struck three times.
The disturbing footage, played in slow motion, appeared to transfix jurors though no one reacted audibly.
DePape’s defense previously sought to prevent the government from showing the hammer attack in slow motion, but U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley allowed it.
This federal trial, unfolding in downtown San Francisco, is sure to lay bare the corrosive impact of conspiracy theories and misinformation in modern politics.
By the admission of his own defense team, DePape was caught in a rabbit’s hole of far-right conspiracies that led him to believe the nation is run by a “ruling class engaged in corruption,” defense attorney Jodi Linker told jurors last week.
DePape wasn’t out to kidnap Nancy Pelosi or do harm to Paul Pelosi, the defense maintains, but to use them to reach a person the prosecution calls “Target 1.” That person has been identified as Bay Area scholar and University of Michigan professor Gayle Rubin, a leading academic in feminist theory and queer studies.
The government has said DePape planned for months to attack the Pelosi home and kidnap the former House speaker.
DePape allegedly had $9,000 cash, zip ties, rope and duct tape in a backpack that he brought to the Pelosi home, according to the government. The assault was captured on officers’ body cameras.
The suspect has blogged about his belief that aliens, communists, religious minorities and global elites all threaten America, authorities have said.
He’s repeated baseless allegations that Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in 2020 was not legitimate and embraced QAnon, a far-right movement that claims America is being secretly run by a cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles, officials have said.
DePape faces up to a life sentence if convicted.
Chris Young reported from San Francisco, and David K. Li from New York City.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.