David DePape, the man accused of breaking into Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s home and attacking her husband with a hammer, burst into tears as he testified for the first time at his federal trial on Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
DePape, a Canadian national, has pleaded not guilty to two federal felony charges—assault on an immediate family member of a federal official, and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He faces life in prison if convicted.
He claimed previously that he’d become caught up in a slew of conspiracies online that drove him to break into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home last October, just days before the 2022 midterm elections.
He repeated those claims on Tuesday, crying a few minutes into his testimony when one of his attorneys asked him about his political leanings and how he’d transitioned from being “left-wing” to becoming conservative.
He testified that he listened to political podcasts on YouTube nearly all day—sending him down a rabbit hole of conspiracies that led him to believe outlandish things about prominent people, including Nancy Pelosi. He named the right-wing influencers Tim Pool and James Lindsay as the podcasters he listened to the most.
Lindsay, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a conspiracist promoting “‘groomer’ rhetoric against the LGBTQ community and the ‘white genocide’ theory,” addressed his name being mentioned in a tweet, writing, “Idk who needs to hear this, but I denounce DePape. LOL.”
DePape didn’t detail exactly what he believed about the Pelosis, but he referenced other conspiracies to try and illustrate that he wasn’t thinking clearly as the time of the alleged attack.
“When Bush was in office, I thought 9/11 was an inside job,” he said, adding that he’d also search online for lies about Donald Trump.
DePape admitted he had a target list of people he’d come to hate, which included actor Tom Hanks, Trump’s former VP Mike Pence, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the president’s son Hunter Biden, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. That list did not include Paul Pelosi, DePape said.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him,” DePape testified, according to an NBC Bay Area reporter in the courtroom. “I reacted because my plan was ruined… Getting to the rest of my targets and pardoning all of them and ending the corruption.”
DePape insinuated he attacked Paul Pelosi’s out of anger because his “plan was ruined.” Prior to the assault, he claimed, he and Pelosi had a “good rapport going.”
He added that he initially thought his strike to Pelosi’s head had killed him until he read the state charges against him from jail that included “attempted murder.”
DePape’s defense attorneys have not disputed much of the facts of the case, including that DePape assaulted Pelosi. Instead, they have argued that DePape had a master plan to stop a larger political conspiracy that “had nothing to do” with the then-Speaker Pelosi or her duties.
Jodi Linker, one of his attorneys, told jurors last week that DePape believed he was taking action to stop government corruption and the “erosion of freedom.” She argued that the charges prosecutors brought against him do not fit the crime.
“What matters is what brought David to that house—what David believed and what he intended,” she said. “This is not a whodunit. But what the government fails to acknowledge is the ‘whydunit,’ and the why matters in this case.”
Paul Pelosi, 83, testified Monday, recalling to jurors how he “woke up in a pool of his own blood” after being struck by DePape, who’d broken into his house carrying zip ties and a hammer, and confronting Paul in bed as he demanded to speak to Nancy Pelosi.
That last detail, prosecutors argue, proves that DePape was targeting Nancy Pelosi—who was away in Washington—when he broke into the home.
A 911 call, security footage, and dramatic body-cam video were released by San Francisco cops in January, which appeared to support prosecutor’s claims that Nancy Pelosi was the target.
The security footage appeared to show DePape break into a window at the back of the home. Minutes later, Paul Pelosi called 911 and said: “There’s a gentleman here waiting for my wife to come back, Nancy Pelosi. He’s just waiting for her to come back but she won’t be here for days, so I guess I have to wait.”
When cops arrived, their body-cams captured them knocking on the door to find DePape and Pelosi in the hallway, both with a hand on a hammer. Officers asked DePape what was going on, to which he responded, “Everything’s good.” Things quickly turned violent, however, with the footage showing DePape pull the hammer from Pelosi’s grasp and strike him with it before the cops could intervene. As the officers subdued DePape, the cameras captured Pelosi lying unconscious on the ground.
In addition to facing federal charges, DePape also faces attempted murder and first-degree residential burglary charges in a concurrent state trial.