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Paul Pelosi attack suspect pleads not guilty on federal assault and kidnapping charges

David DePape also faces state attempted murder charges in the attack on Speaker Pelosi's husband.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi at the home he shares with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi home appeared in federal court for the first time Tuesday, pleading not guilty to a raft of federal charges.

David DePape, 42, of the San Francisco Bay Area suburb Richmond, pleaded not guilty to charges of entering the Pelosi home in San Francisco and violently assaulting Pelosi with a hammer. He faces multiple federal charges including assault, attempted murder and attempted kidnapping. 

Federal prosecutors also charged him with “attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official,” after investigators said he told them he planned to hold Speaker Pelosi hostage. That charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. A charge of assault on a federal official’s family member carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and both charges have a maximum fine of $250,000.

At his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alex Tse, DePape appeared with his lawyer, Angela Chuang of the Office of the Federal Public Defender, cuffed in orange. The federal government’s lead attorney Laura Vartain also attended the hearing.

When DePape was arrested at the Pelosi home on Oct. 28, investigators who interviewed him said he told them he was on a “suicide mission” and planned to take Speaker Pelosi hostage and “break her kneecaps” to make her an example to other Democratic lawmakers. They say DePape posted antisemitic and QAnon-affiliated conspiracy theories online, and new details from the no-bail request said he had other political targets. 

"DePape also explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DePape," an FBI agent said in an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint.

San Francisco Police officers who tackled DePape found a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, pairs of rubber and cloth gloves and zip ties among DePape's belongings at the scene.

The government said DePape is a Canadian citizen and is in the country illegally. Officials report that DePape entered the U.S. through the San Ysidro point of entry in 2008 as a temporary visitor.

In the indictment entered on Nov. 9, the government says DePape told them he broke into the home through a glass window and found Pelosi in bed, and told him he would “take the punishment” if he resisted. He said he did not leave after Pelosi called 911 because ‘like the American Founding Fathers and the British,’ he said he was “fighting tyranny” without the option of “surrender.”

DePape’s next hearing will take place 9 a.m. Nov. 30 before District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley. Vartain said the government is placing DePape back in custody with the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department.

DePape also faces charges in San Francisco County Superior Court, where he pleaded not guilty a laundry list of state charges — including attempted murder — after waiving his right to a hearing within 10 days.

Public defender Adam Lipson arrives out San Francisco Superior Court to speak to the press about his client David DePape. (Natalie Hanson / Courthouse News)

A preliminary hearing in the state case will take place Dec. 14, where a motion to hold DePape without bail will also be discussed.

Paul Pelosi was released from the hospital this month after receiving treatment for a skull fracture sustained in the attack, according to Speaker Pelosi. He underwent surgery for the fracture and injuries to other limbs.

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