DOJ wants 40 years in prison for man who attacked Paul Pelosi

 May 13, 2024

The man who assaulted Paul Pelosi during a 2022 home invasion should spend 40 years in prison, prosecutors say. 

The Justice Department explained its reasoning for a severe penalty in a memo that characterized attacker David DePape as a terrorist.

"The defendant planned a violent hostage-taking of the Speaker Emerita, and then nearly killed her husband. The defendant planned and unleashed violence and has stayed true to his belief that the actions were necessary," prosecutors said.

Pelosi, the husband of Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), was left with a skull fracture after DePape smashed him in the head with a hammer.

Paul Pelosi hammer attack

The moments leading up to the attack were captured on police bodycam footage that showed DePape and Pelosi struggling over a hammer.

During his federal trial in November, DePape gave a tearful apology to the court before being found guilty.

DePape confessed that he wanted to violently interrogate then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was away in Washington D.C. at the time. He said he only attacked Paul Pelosi when the plan was "ruined."

“When he was on the ground breathing, I was, like, really scared for his life,” DePape said. “I felt bad for him because we kind of had, like, a really good rapport.”

Lawyers for DePape unsuccessfully argued that he lacked the intent to interfere with Pelosi's duties. He was found guilty of attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official and assault on a family member of a U.S. official.

Sentencing is Friday

The maximum sentence for the kidnapping charge is 20 years, and the assault comes with a 30-year max. But prosecutors want DePape to serve 20 years of the second sentence consecutively.

The DOJ said a harsh sentence would send a message that political violence is unacceptable.

"The violent lessons that the defendant wanted to teach are not permitted in this country, and the sentence that this court imposes must reflect the nature and circumstances of the offense," prosecutors said.

DePape is still facing state charges for attempted murder, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse. Paul Pelosi, who was awoken from sleep by the intruder, said he is still trying to block the harrowing episode out of his memory.

“I just have tried to put it out of my mind,” Pelosi told the court last year. “I’m trying to come back — I’m just trying — I made the best effort I possibly can not to relive this.”

The sentencing is set for Friday.

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