Attacker wanted to ‘kneecap’ Nancy: Partisan conspiracies in Paul Pelosi assault

Clay Higgins, a Republican House member from Louisiana, tweeted something he must have found amusing. 

After the vicious assault on Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul, the member of the Homeland Security Committee tweeted an apparently doctored image of the speaker with one eye looking bruised. The caption: “That moment you realize the nudist hippie male prostitute LSD guy was the reason your husband didn’t make it to your fundraiser.”

The congressman later deleted the tweet, which is unfortunately emblematic of the utter lack of compassion not just for the House Democratic leader, who says she’s “heartbroken and traumatized” by the attack that was meant for her, but for the 82-year-old man who had to be hospitalized.

I got plenty of this online after leading “Media Buzz” with coverage of the attack. One person said this sounded like Jussie Smollett, the actor who famously paid others to fake a racially motivated attack on him. Excuse me? Paul Pelosi underwent surgery for a fractured skull and injuries to his right arm and hands from the hammer attack. Or are the doctors making that up?


(Left) Paul Pelosi and Nancy Pelosi attend the Pre-GRAMMY Gala. (Right) David DePape.
(Michael Short/ San Francisco Chronicle )

Larry Elder, the leading GOP candidate in the California gubernatorial recall, wrote: “Poor, Paul Pelosi. First, he’s busted for DUI, and then gets attacked in his home. Hammered twice in six months.”

Elder did ask, “Too soon?”, to which the answer can only be yes. 

Federal authorities yesterday filed two charges against David DePape – attempted kidnapping and attempting to intimidate a federal official’s close relative – and revealed the defendant was also carrying zip ties, a rope, rubber gloves and a second hammer. This is on top of the state charges that include attempted homicide.

The Justice Department filing says DePape told police he planned to “hold Nancy hostage and talk to her,” and “if Nancy were to tell ‘the truth,’ he would let her go, and if she ‘lied’ he was going to break ‘her kneecaps,’” so she would have to be wheeled into Congress.

As for Higgins’ tweet, which he hasn’t addressed, DePape does appear to have been at nudist protests, and acquaintances say he has struggled with drug abuse. But while there’s much we don’t know about the attack, the “male prostitute” part is complete fiction, yet another conspiracy theory that DePape (who brought zip ties to the couple’s San Francisco home) was actually a paramour of Paul Pelosi (before the hammer part, I guess). 

Paul Pelosi (L) and Nancy Pelosi on April 25, 2015, in Washington, DC.; Image shows FBI agents outside the home of Nancy and Paul Pelosi on Oct. 28, 2022.

Paul Pelosi (L) and Nancy Pelosi on April 25, 2015, in Washington, DC.; Image shows FBI agents outside the home of Nancy and Paul Pelosi on Oct. 28, 2022.
(Dimitrios Kambouris/VF15/WireImage; Fox News )

And that brings us to the Chief Twit.

Elon Musk, responding to a tweet from Hillary Clinton saying “the Republican Party and its mouthpieces now regularly spread hate and conspiracy theories,” posted of the Paul Pelosi attack: “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this than meets the eye.” He then linked to a conspiracy theory about Pelosi supposedly being in a dispute with a male prostitute by a Santa Monica weekly known for its partisan unreliability – the link didn’t work, and after hours of being hammered for spreading misinformation, Musk deleted the tweet. The L.A. Times reports that in 2016, this Santa Monica outlet “reported Hillary Clinton had died and been replaced by a body double for a debate with Trump.” This was way beneath Musk.

San Francisco police later said Paul Pelosi and DePape didn’t know each other.


On the question of motive, DePape, who is from Canada, posted material on his blogs that was anti-Jewish, anti-Black, anti-media, anti-vaccine, anti-climate change – a mashup of views that are not all right wing.

The Washington Post, which found a more recent blog (also since deleted), said DePape also posted “stolen election” propaganda from MyPillow guy Mike Lindell and others, as well as suicidal thoughts and grisly images of death.

With a defendant so obviously mentally disturbed, who cares what his ideological views are, other than that he planned to kill Nancy Pelosi?

David DePape, right, records the nude wedding of Gypsy Taub outside City Hall on Dec. 19, 2013, in San Francisco.

David DePape, right, records the nude wedding of Gypsy Taub outside City Hall on Dec. 19, 2013, in San Francisco.
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

But while many of the speaker’s political opponents wished her husband well, the reaction among some liberal cable hosts was to blame their favorite target. 


One MSNBC host, Chris Hayes, said “there is a very specific form of murderous rage coming from Donald Trump’s most violent and militant devotees directed at Nancy Pelosi.” Another, Joy Reid, said “it’s as if the attacker in San Francisco was seeking to finish the job of those who attacked the Capitol and stormed those buildings, calling out her name.” That’s because DePape, like some of the rioters, said “Where’s Nancy?’, and both showed footage of the riot.


In short, some in the media are determined to score points by portraying DePape as a right-wing nutjob inspired by Trump, rather than just a nutjob.

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