Capitol Police to Boost Security After Nancy Pelosi’s Husband Attacked

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(Bloomberg) -- The US Capitol Police chief warned that heightened political tension has greatly increased the danger for members of Congress and said the agency needs to bolster protection for lawmakers in the wake of Friday’s violent attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in their San Francisco home.

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“We believe today’s political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for Members of Congress,” Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement.

He declined to give any details of the department’s plans except that it would include “adding redundancies to the measures that are already in place for Congressional leadership.” The department is working on a request for additional funding to provide added security in consultation with lawmakers.

Threats against members of Congress have more than doubled since 2017. Manger said Capitol Police monitor “thousands” of potential threats across the country. The agency will continue to coordinate with state and local law enforcement agencies on security for lawmakers and work to add additional agents and security enhancements to support lawmaker protection, he said.

The attack on Pelosi’s husband, coming less than two weeks before the US midterm election, has put lawmakers on edge and focused attention on the potential for violence in a politically polarized nation.

Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was attacked Friday by a hammer-wielding intruder who broke into the couple’s San Francisco home. The man arrested in the attack, David DePape, was charged Monday by California and federal authorities with a variety of crimes, including attempted murder, assault and kidnapping.

Paul Pelosi, 82, was recovering after surgery to repair a fractured skull and serious injuries to his right arm and hands. Nancy Pelosi, who was in Washington during the attack, said in a statement that her husband “is making steady progress on what will be a long recovery process.”

DePape told authorities he planned to take the speaker hostage and break her kneecaps if she didn’t tell “the truth,” according to an FBI affidavit. San Francisco police recovered plastic ties, a roll of tape, rope, a hammer and rubber and cloth gloves.

DePape, who authorities say has lived for the last two years in a converted garage apartment in Richmond, California, has been linked to blog posts that railed against the government and technology giants, and espoused far-right conspiracy theories.

In his first court appearance on Tuesday, DePape, 42, pleaded not guilty. Superior Court Judge Diane Northway ordered him to remain in custody without bail. His attorney, public defender Adam Lipson, said outside court that DePape may have been influenced by political “misinformation” and said that could factor into his client’s defense.

The assault at Pelosi’s home follows other recent high-profile threatening incidents involving public officials.

On Friday, a Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of California.

In July, man was arrested outside the Seattle home of Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal with a handgun. Republican Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, who is running for governor, was attacked that same month during a campaign event.

In June, a man making threats and carrying a gun was arrested outside the Maryland home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

A program unveiled earlier this year provides lawmakers with a $10,000 to install or enhance equipment in their residences, as well as monthly maintenance and monitoring costs. Members of leadership have a security detail and other lawmakers who’ve been subject to threats use campaign funds to pay for personal security.

Threats to members of Congress escalated after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters. The Capitol Police budget was $602 million in the current fiscal year, an $87 million increase from the year before.

Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy “looks forward to working with USCP in the coming weeks to determine what other resources need to be included in the omnibus to address the threats to members and their families,” a committee spokesperson, Jay Tilton, said.

--With assistance from Erik Wasson and Joel Rosenblatt.

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