Federal affidavit debunks wild far-right conspiracy theories about the attack on Paul Pelosi amplified by Elon Musk, Ted Cruz, and Marjorie Taylor Greene

Nancy and Paul Pelosi next to Elon Musk
Nancy and Paul Pelosi, and Elon MuskLeon Neal/Getty Images and Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images
  • A federal affidavit debunks far-right conspiracy theories about the attack on Paul Pelosi.

  • Twitter's new owner Elon Musk tweeted then deleted a baseless report about a dispute with a male prostitute.

  • Pelosi told authorities he had never seen the suspect before, according to the affidavit.

A federal affidavit in the case against the man charged with violently assaulting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband debunks far-right conspiracy theories swirling online.

Since Paul Pelosi, 82, was attacked in his home with a hammer on Friday, wild and baseless theories of a homosexual tryst have been making the rounds in conservative forums, even though Pelosi told authorities he had never seen the suspect before, according to the affidavit. Right-wingers are also raising suspicions about the police account, the timing of the attack, and the attacker's background with a nudist group.

"It starts out with these weirdos, and then next thing you know, it's Ted Cruz, and then it's Marge Greene and then it's 50 people in Congress saying it by tomorrow," said criminal defense attorney Ron Filipkowski, who tracks extremists on social media. "It's the case with all these conspiracies."

Paul Pelosi was hospitalized with a skull fracture but is expected to fully recover. David DePape, 42, who reportedly previously spread right-wing conspiracy theories, antisemitism, and bigotry, was charged on Monday with assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official.

DePape told authorities that he broke in with a hammer through a glass door, according to the affidavit, disproving theories that the glass was broken from the inside. The attacker entered the bedroom where Paul Pelosi was sleeping and said he wanted to talk to "Nancy," according to the affidavit.

DePape told authorities that he was planning to break "her kneecaps" if she lied, though it's unclear in the affidavit about what.

Filipkowski has been monitoring conspiracy theories on the attack and says the gay tryst theory appears to have started with an erroneous report that the suspect was only wearing underwear. A KTVU reporter retracted that report on Twitter, but it quickly led to rumors of homosexual prostitution being circulated, Filipkowski said.

'Nothing to suggest that these two men knew each other prior'

Elon Musk, in a now-deleted tweet, said there might be "more to the story" and shared a link to a baseless report in the conspiracy-peddling Santa Monica Observer with the headline, "The Awful Truth: Paul Pelosi Was Drunk Again, And In a Dispute With a Male Prostitute Early Friday Morning." Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a controversial Republican of Georgia referred to Pelosi's attacker as his "friend" and backed up Musk, tweeting that "the media is the source of misinformation."

Musk's message and link had been retweeted more than 30,000 times and liked more than 110,000 times before being deleted less than an hour later, according to The New York Times.

Filipkowski tweeted on Sunday that Musk's post was being reposted by QAnon and right-wing accounts on multiple social media platforms.

"The owner of Tesla and Twitter posted it. The dark corners of the internet are now mainstreamed," he wrote.

Paul Pelosi was able to call 911 from a bathroom and leave the line open so the dispatcher could hear him and understand something was wrong, CNN reported. Police got word that the dispatcher was told Paul Pelosi didn't know the DePape — but also that the man was a "friend," according to the Los Angeles Times.

The affidavit, however, explains that Paul Pelosi had said in the call the man who identified himself as David was waiting for Nancy Pelosi, and he didn't know him.

San Francisco district attorney Brooke Jenkins tried to correct the record on Sunday. "We have nothing to suggest that these two men knew each other prior to this incident," Jenkins said, according to CBS.

Jenkins also said the attacker was looking for Nancy Pelosi and that reports that a third person was at the home were untrue.

Once a Green Party member, DePape more recently espoused right-wing conspiracy theories

DePape promoted conspiracy theories online, including reportedly sharing claims that COVID-19 was a ruse, claims that the 2020 election was stolen, transphobic content, and links to websites claiming that COVID-19 vaccines are deadly.

Earlier, DePape at one point joined a nudist group, became a hemp jewelry maker, and registered as a member of the Green Party, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. His background is fueling more commentary.

"This is all old news about this guy," Filipkowski said. "Of course, the conspiracy behind that is, 'That doesn't sound like a MAGA guy to us. That sounds like a hippie liberal.'"

Right-wing political commentator Matt Walsh tweeted that it was "absurd" to paint a "hippie nudist from Berkeley as some kind of militant right winger."

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas retweeted the post, writing, "truth."

 

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