Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul Pelosi, took the stand Monday on the second day of the federal trial against his accused attacker, David DePape.
Opening statements began Thursday in the federal trial of 43-year-old David DePape, who stands accused in federal court of attempted kidnapping of a federal official on account of the performance of official duties; and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official, with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties.
On Monday morning, as the Associated Press reports, federal prosecutors put an FBI agent on the stand, as well as a Capitol Police officer who was assigned to watch the surveillance cameras at the Pelosis’ home. Also testifying were another officer with the Capitol Police who has protected Nancy Pelosi since 2006, and a BART official.
Part of these testimonies was intended to confirm timestamps on video evidence in the case, and explain why they didn't seem to match the official account. The Capitol Police footage, for instance, was set to Eastern time, and BART cameras — which I guess don't abide by Daylight Savings time? — showed an hour behind Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).
Paul Pelosi was also expected to testify Monday afternoon.
Update: Pelosi took the stand Monday, as the Chronicle reports, and described skull injuries that he sustained in the attack as "very painful," and he said he was still undergoing physical therapy to regain his sense of balance. He went on to say that he had done his best to avoid hearing any reports about the incident, or listening to the 911 recording that was released. "I have not discussed this incident with anybody," Pelosi said. "I haven’t seen any of the news, and I’ve encouraged my family not to either, because it’s been so traumatic. I’ve made the best effort I possibly can to not relive this."
In her opening statement, federal public defender Jodi Linker laid out a narrow defense of DePape, arguing, as the New York Times explains, that her client "did not commit a federal offense because he was not driven by Ms. Pelosi’s official duties as a member of Congress but by a desire to stop what he thought was a larger political conspiracy."
Linker did not dispute that the hammer attack occurred or any of the evidence that shows it occurred, only arguing that DePape was motivated by fictitious conspiracy that he believes "with every ounce of his being."
In testimony last week and Monday, SFPD officers described arriving at the Pelosi home on the morning of October 28, 2022, witnessing the hammer attack in the front hallway of the home, and interviewing DePape shortly afterward.
Paul Pelosi had been awoken around 2 a.m. allegedly to find DePape standing over him and asking "Where's Nancy?" The speaker was, at the time, in Washington, and Pelosi proceeded to talk to DePape and call 911 in the ensuing minutes.
DePape told a police investigator Lt. Carla Hurley that he intended to ask Nancy about her "lies," and if she continued to lie to him he would "break her kneecaps."
Hurley testified that, after hearing DePape's bizarre, QAnon-inspired reasoning for breaking into the Pelosi home, she asked him if he was on any medication. DePape allegedly replied, "No, I knew exactly what I was doing. I am not of unwell mind."
Linker said Thursdsay that she intended to call a witness to the stand identified only as Target 1 in court documents. Target 1, as the New York Times reports, is queer studies professor Dr. Gayle Rubin, who is a sometime resident of the Bay Area who teaches at the University of Michigan. Rubin, Linker says, was DePape's prime target, and he allegedly intended to lure her to him by first taking Nancy Pelosi hostage.
As SFist has explained before, Rubin is a obscure figure who has been vilified by right-wing conspiracy theorists and QAnon types as someone who has celebrated pedophilia — which is a misreading of her early academic work, Rubin says. Rubin's seminal 1984 essay "Thinking Sex" has been seen as trying to intellectualize pedophilia — but she wrote a 2011 essay called "Rethinking Sex" that this was taken out of context and she never imagined anyone would infer that she "supported the rape of pre-pubescents."
Rubin is also a scholar of San Francisco's leather scene, and has lectured here about the history of Folsom Street Fair and Dore Alley.
FBI agents also testified to finding internet searches on DePape's browser history for "Nancy Pelosi Family," "Pelosi pig blood," and "Nancy Pelosi's home." The pig blood reference refers to a highly publicized January 2021 incident in which the garage door at the Pelosi home was vandalized with pig's blood — or something like it — and a pig's head.
The full extent or shape of DePape's ill-conceived plans may not ever be known, but he was carrying around a large sum of money when he was arrested — over $9,000 in cash. As KRON4 reports, an FBI agent testified to finding a bank receipt inside a trash can at the garage home DePape was living in in Richmond which showed a "cash dispense" of $7,000.
It seems unlikely that DePape will take the stand, but as former federal prosecutor Laurie L. Levenson, now a professor at Loyola Law School, tells the Times, he likely wants to continue grandstanding and getting his conspiracy message out there — like he did with that defiant January jailhouse phone call with KTVU.
"I think he wants a trial," Levenson says. "He wants to use this as his platform, as a showcase for his beliefs. I think the court will shut it down, but it’s the same reason he called the media from prison to talk about the case."
After the federal trial — in which he faces a sentence of a life in prison — DePape will stand trial in state court on a host of other charges including attempted murder and elder abuse.
Photo: Paul Pelosi, husband of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrives at a rally of House Democrats on the East Steps of the U.S. Capitol on October 13, 2023 in Washington, DC. Democrats were critical of their Republican counterparts after they were unable to elect a Speaker of the House, 10 days after ousting Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the post. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)