A man who attacked with a hammer the husband of Nancy Pelosi, the former Democratic leader of the House of Representatives in the United States, was sentenced on Friday May 17 in San Francisco (California) to thirty years in prison. David DePape was found guilty at the end of 2023 of entering the couple’s home in San Francisco in October 2022 and fracturing Paul Pelosi’s skull.

At the time President of the United States House of Representatives, Ms. Pelosi was the third person in the American state and she was regularly the target of conspiracy theories fueled by the far right.

The trial showed how Mr. DePape, a Canadian carpenter in an illegal situation and quite solitary, was immersed in a world full of misinformation before taking action. Prosecutor Helen Gilbert estimated that he had “deliberately targeted” Nancy Pelosi a few days before the US mid-term elections, “because of her work, her role in our political system”. If he initially wanted to attack the parliamentarian, Nancy Pelosi was in Washington that day and not at her home in San Francisco.

“It was so traumatic.”

During David DePape’s intrusion, Paul Pelosi managed to alert the police, who intervened at the last minute. The attack was filmed by San Francisco officers’ pedestrian camera. Images that the octogenarian, who had been hospitalized for almost a week and had to be operated on, still refuses to see more than a year after the events. “It was so traumatic. I did everything in my power not to go through that again,” he told jurors.

Occurring a few days before the midterm elections, the affair illustrated the seriousness of the effects of disinformation on the campaign, as well as the deep divisions in America. Some members of the Republican Party had mocked the attack or expressed some skepticism, despite the images.

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