New Footage of Paul Pelosi Attack Should Put Right-Wing Conspiracy Theorists to Shame

Screenshot: @AP/Twitter
Screenshot: @AP/Twitter  

A judge has released police body camera footage capturing the moment Rep. Nancy Pelosi's (D-Ca.) husband, Paul, was attacked by a hammer-wielding home intruder last October. The clip, first shown in court last month, captures officers arriving at the Pelosis' San Francisco home and the moment the suspect, identified as David DePape, bludgeons the 87-year-old man with a hammer. As police restrain and arrest DePape, he details his plans to kidnap the congresswoman and break her bones.

Judge Stephen M. Murphy of San Francisco Superior Court ordered the public release of the video on Friday following requests from news organizations including the New York Times and Washington Post, as the footage will continue to be played in the courtroom during the trial.

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Paul was hospitalized shortly after the attack, suffering a fractured skull and injuries to his arm and hands. Nonetheless, as he healed from his wounds and his family grieved, conservative politicians and media outlets immediately peddled baseless, homophobic conspiracy theories-namely, that Paul and DePape were lovers-and claimed the attack was unrelated to Pelosi's politics. Republican leaders like former President Trump, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.), Donald Trump, Jr., and others have openly mocked Paul for being victimized and alluded that he and the feds were lying about what happened. And of course, Elon Musk shared the homophobic conspiracy theory about the attack on Twitter just days after buying the company.

DePape himself told police in his interview that Pelosi is "the 'leader of the pack' of lies told by the Democratic Party," a narrative pushed by the far-right and even ostensibly "moderate" wings of the Republican Party for years. DePape told police he has other targets, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and President Joe Biden's son, Hunter. His internet history leaves a paper trail of alarming, racist and antisemitic rants.

The newly released footage should put to bed the misinformation and twisted right-wing "jokes" about the attack, which were often accompanied by paranoid calls to "release the footage." Instead, there are now concerns that the newly public footage could be edited and manipulated by right-wing media to further push their agenda. This was one concern outlined by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, the Washington Post reports.

The footage shows Paul, who was awakened in the middle of the night in his home by an intruder, in a state of undress. There's nothing even remotely odd about this, and yet, the conspiracy theory that DePape is Paul's lover emerged in because after a local Fox affiliate misreported and retracted a claim that DePape had been in his underwear when he was arrested, which spread like wildfire. Needless to say, people will believe what they want to believe. Even despite actual video footage making it extremely clear what went down on the night of the attack and why, the Pelosis should probably not expect to receive any of the apologies they are due.

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