Justice Department recommends 40-year sentence for man convicted of attacking Paul Pelosi

Prosecutors are recommending a 40-year sentence for the man found guilty of using a hammer to attack former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, inside their San Francisco home in October 2022.

David DePape was convicted in November of one count of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official, with the jury determining that he used a dangerous weapon, and a second count of attempted kidnapping of a federal official.

According to a memorandum filed Friday, the Department of Justice argued DePape’s actions constitute “a federal crime of terrorism,” which the DOJ states “is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct” and “includes the attempted kidnapping of a Member of Congress.”

DePape’s attorney, Jodi Linker, conceded during the trial that her client attacked the then-82-year-old Paul Pelosi, but argued that his motivation for the assault did not match the charges against him.

“This case here is about the why — the why matters,” Linker had argued to the jury. “This case is about whether David acted because of, on account of, Nancy Pelosi’s duties as a member of Congress. He didn’t, and he only struck Paul Pelosi in a quick moment of despair because the police arrived and his larger plan was thwarted.”

CNN has reached out to Linker for comment.

During the trial, DePape, who described his political leanings as “right of center,” told the jury that he was focused on Nancy Pelosi and that her husband was not on his list of targets. He was “surprised and confused,” he said, when he found the congresswoman was not home.

In his testimony, Paul Pelosi recounted how he awoke the night of the attack to see a man with a hammer in his home. That man, later identified by police as DePape, asked where his wife was, he said. “She’s not here. She’s in Washington,” Pelosi recalled answering.

He later came to in a pool of blood after being violently struck in the head following a struggle with DePape, Pelosi said.

Pelosi, who underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and injuries to his hand and arm, told jurors that his recovery has been difficult. “I’ve made the best effort I possibly can to not revisit this,” he said.

The DOJ argued in the memo that “Both crimes are an assault on our democracy and fundamental values,” and therefore should serve as a deterrent to others.

“At a time when extremism has led to attacks on public and elected officials, this case presents a moment to speak to others harboring ideologically motivated violent dreams and plans,” the Justice Department said.

DePape’s federal sentencing date is set for May 17, and he still faces charges at the state level in California. He has pleaded not guilty to state charges including attempted murder, burglary and assault.

CNN’s Veronica Miracle, Jeffrey Kopp and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn contributed to this report.

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