WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held back tears when she first spoke Monday about being woken up by banging on the door as Capitol police rushed her to tell her about the attack on her husband in the house of the family in San Francisco.
“I was very scared,” Pelosi told CNN in an interview. “I think about my children, my grandchildren. I never thought it would be Paul.”
On the eve of the midterm elections, the Democratic leader has been candid about the brutal attack as her party struggles with a wave of Republican eagerness to maintain control of Congress at a time of mounting threats of violence against lawmakers and concerns about the U.S. election.
Pelosi’s husband, Paul, was hammered to death 11 days before the election by an intruder who, authorities say, broke into the family’s San Francisco and searched for the speaker before hitting the 82-year-old on the head at least once. The intruder told police he wanted to talk to Speaker Pelosi and “break her kneecaps” as a lesson to other Democrats. Paul Pelosi suffered a fractured skull and other injuries in what authorities believe was a deliberate political attack.
Pelosi said she was sleeping in her Washington apartment, just back from San Francisco, when a “bang, bang, bang, bang, bang” sounded on her door. It was about 5 o’clock in the morning of October 28.
“We didn’t even know where he was or what his condition was,” Pelosi said, in excerpts of the interview to be aired later Monday. “We just knew there was an attack on him in our house.”
David DePape, 42, is being held without bail in San Francisco after filing a not guilty plea to attempted murder and other charges in San Francisco. He also faces federal charges of attempted kidnapping of an elected official.
The fringe activist who followed conspiracy theories broke into Pelosi’s house, woke Paul Pelosi and demanded to speak to “Nancy,” authorities said. When Paul Pelosi told the intruder that his wife was out of town, DePape said he would wait. After Paul Pelosi called 911, officers arrived to watch the two men struggle over a hammer before DePape hit Paul Pelosi on the head at least once with the hammer.
DePape later told police he wanted to kidnap the speaker and threatened to injure her “to show other members of Congress that actions had consequences.”
The grim story of authorities in the court files in the case contrasts with the jokes and innuendo that conservatives and some Republican officials have spread about the Pelosis in the wake of the attack.
Pelosi has said little since the attack on her husband, cutting her campaign appearances short, but spoke in a virtual call to grassroots activists late last week after Paul Pelosi was released from hospital.
“People say to me, ‘What can I do to make you feel better?’ I say: ‘Vote!’”, Pelosi said to the interlocutors.
Her voice broke at times when she said of her husband’s recovery, “It will be a long haul.”