The House speaker would not say how the assault on her husband had affected her thinking about whether to stay in Congress. But she said it underscored how Republicans are determined to “put a stop to me.”
Send any friend a story
As a subscriber, you have “>10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.
Give this articleGive this articleGive this article
Speaker Nancy Pelosi at her home in San Francisco last week. In an interview on Monday, she appeared visibly shaken as she spoke of the attack and the “long haul” recovery process her husband faced.
WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asleep in her apartment in Washington early one morning last month when her doorbell and loud knocking alerted her to Capitol Police officials at her door. They were there to inform her that her husband, Paul Pelosi, had been attacked inside the couple’s home in San Francisco.
“I run to the door, and I’m very scared,” Ms. Pelosi said in her first interview since the assault on her 82-year-old husband, who was bludgeoned with a hammer and suffered skull fractures.
“I’m thinking, my children, my grandchildren,” Ms. Pelosi said. “I never thought it would be Paul, because I knew he wouldn’t be out and about, shall we say.”
The suspect in the attack, David DePape, 42, was obsessed with right-wing conspiracy theories and had broken into the Pelosi home to take the House speaker hostage, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she “lied,” according to federal prosecutors.
In an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN the night before the midterm elections, Ms. Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency, appeared visibly shaken as she spoke of the attack and the “long haul” recovery process her husband faced. She also said that the violence had affected her decision about whether to remain in Congress if Democrats lose control of the House.
More on the Paul Pelosi Attack
- A Shocking Attack: As investigators release more details about the attack at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home, The Daily takes a look at the story that has emerged so far.
- Fears of Political Violence Rise: The assault of Ms. Pelosi’s husband, Paul, comes as threats against members of Congress have increased in recent years.
- Making Sense of the Assault: The attacker may have been inspired by acrimonious political messaging. He also may be just a troubled loner. The two possibilities are not necessarily in tension.
- Mimicking Trump: Falsehoods and jeers shared about the attack by Republicans show how the G.O.P. has internalized the example of former President Donald J. Trump.
In order to amass the Democratic votes she needed to be elected speaker in 2019, Ms. Pelosi pledged she would not seek to lead her party past the end of her term, which ends in January. But she has recently balked at questions on the subject, saying she was focused on the midterms.
“My decision will be affected by what happened in the last week or two,” Ms. Pelosi told Mr. Cooper. She did not elaborate on how, but she made clear that she still believed she was the person best suited to the top job. She said the attack underscored how Republicans are determined to take her down.
“I’ve been a target for a long time, because I’m very effective. I’m a great, she says, master of the legislation,” Ms. Pelosi said. “I’m an outstanding, shall we say, a master of the resources necessary — intellectual, financial or political — to win elections. And so they have to put a stop to me, right?”
The speaker vacillated between expressing anger at Republicans for feeding a misinformation loop that inspired the assailant to carry out the attack and calling for healing.
“This is a time, long overdue, for healing,” she said, quickly adding that the Republican Party, which she said she once respected, had been “yielding to a cult — to a thug, actually, as I see it.”
Around the same time the interview aired on Monday, the person she was referring to, former President Donald J. Trump, called her an “animal” at a rally in Ohio, where he was campaigning for the Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance. “She impeached me twice, for nothing,” the former president said.
After the attack on Mr. Pelosi, Mr. Trump also fanned a baseless conspiracy theory that flourished in right-wing media, which claimed that the assault was an inside job and that Mr. Pelosi had a relationship with his assailant.
“The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out,” the former president falsely claimed. “So it wasn’t a break-in, it was a break out.”
Ms. Pelosi said the spread of misinformation after the assault was “really sad for the country. That people of that high visibility would separate themselves from the facts and the truth. It’s destructive to the unity we want to have in our country.”
The House speaker, however, was short on answers on how to motivate people to run for office amid a surge in threats and confrontations with elected officials.
“You can’t say to them, ‘You’re risking the safety of your families going forward,’” she said, later adding: “Most of the people we want to run have options. They’re not people without options.”
When pressed on how to stop the threats and violence, Ms. Pelosi said it was up to the Republican Party.
“You would think there would be some level of responsibility,” she said. “You see what the reaction is on the other side, to make a joke of it. That is traumatizing, too.”
“For me, this is really the hard part,” Ms. Pelosi said. “Paul was not the target, and he’s the one who’s paying the price.”