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DOJ recommends 40 years for Pelosi attacker

Federal prosecutors have recommended a 40-year sentence for the man who was convicted of attempting to kidnap then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and brutally attacking her husband, Paul, in October 2022 during a break-in at their family home.

David DePape was found guilty in federal court of attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official and assault on a family member of a U.S. official last November, both counts requiring intent based on then-Speaker Pelosi’s government duties. DePape still faces five state charges — attempted murder, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse — and if convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

In a Friday filing, the DOJ made the argument that, in addition to the U.S. Probation Office’s recommended 25 years, DePape’s sentencing should include an enhancement for an intent to “promote a federal crime of terrorism.”

The DOJ argued that the attempted kidnapping “was clearly intended to promote a federal crime of terrorism, that is, attempting to kidnap a Member of Congress ‘to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct.’” They also cite DePape’s own post-arrest statements: “He intended to kidnap Speaker Pelosi because she was the ‘leader of the pack’ and because of all of the lies coming out of Washington.”

DePape, a Canadian citizen who was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of the attack, has admitted to striking Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer after breaking into the Pelosi home in San Francisco. According to him, he planned to detain and interrogate Nancy Pelosi to “expose the truth” on a range of supposed government plots. The DOJ noted that DePape — who said his plan to capture other political targets through kidnapping the former speaker was “basically ruined” — has “failed to accept responsibility for his crimes.”

Paul Pelosi has faced a long recovery after undergoing surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his arm and hands.

Compounding the lasting effect of his physical injuries, Pelosi testified in November that the emotional trauma of the attack has haunted him and his family.

“I just have tried to put it out of my mind,” he testified, saying that he and his family have avoided discussing the incident. “I’m trying to come back — I’m just trying — I made the best effort I possibly can not to relive this.”

In the latest filing, the DOJ noted that DePape’s sentencing holds deterrent value, both in the defendant’s case and also for the general public, “at a time when extremism has led to attacks on public and elected officials.”