Man Who Attacked Paul Pelosi Says He Was Radicalized by Gamergate

The man told jurors he spent hours listening to far-right podcasts before breaking into the Pelosi home and attacking the then-Speaker’s husband with a hammer.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi during Game Four of the Western Conference First Round Playoffs at Chase Center on April 23, 2023 in San Francisco, California. ( Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The man who broke into Nancy Pelosi’s home and assaulted her husband with a hammer says his descent into the world of right-wing conspiracies started with “Gamergate,” the 2014 misogynistic harassment campaign that targeted women in the video game industry. 

David DePape, 43, took the stand in his trial in San Franciscoon Wednesday and spoke for more than an hour, describing to the jury how he went from a left-leaning hemp-jewelry maker to a right-wing conspiracy theorist, the Associated Press reported


DePape’s path to radicalization is a well-trodden one; Gamergate has been widely identified as the precursor to the even more toxic “alt-right” that emerged in the run-up to the 2016 election. According to AP, Depape said that he’d play video games for up to six hours a day while listening to “political podcasts,” including one hosted by James Lindsay, a culture war commentator who has been described as a proponent of far-right, anti-LGBTQ “grooming” conspiracy theories. 

DePape left a trail of conspiratorial blogs and other writings online, as first reported by VICE News, showing he ascribed to a grab-bag of far-right conspiracies including Holocaust denial, election fraud, and Pizzagate. His writings also indicated that he regularly hung out on the /pol/ board of 4chan, an infamous online hub of racism and bigotry. 

DePape is facing life in federal prison for attempting to kidnap a federal official and assaulting an immediate family member of a federal official. He broke into the Pelosi residence in San Francisco on October 28, 2022, days before the midterm elections, and said he’d planned to interrogate Nancy Pelosi—who was House Speaker at the time—about her “corruption.” 


DePape told jurors he had originally planned to conduct the interrogation while wearing an inflatable unicorn costume, and wanted to upload a video of the interrogation online, according to AP. He’d previously told investigators that he planned to “break her knee-caps” if she did not cooperate. 

Nancy Pelosi was not at home that night, but her husband, 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, was. Paul Pelosi testified that he was woken up by DePape bursting into his bedroom and shouting “where’s Nancy?” Pelosi managed to call the police, but when officers arrived, DePape attacked him with a hammer, leaving him with a fractured skull that required surgery. 

A police lieutenant who previously interviewed DePape testified that the defendant had a list of other potential targets that included Hunter Biden, Tom Hanks, California Gov. Gavin Newsrom, and a queer studies professor at the University of Michigan who he’d learned about by listening to Lindsay’s podcast. “The takeaway I got is that she wants to turn our schools into pedophile molestation factories,” DePape testified, according to AP. 

DePape has pleaded not guilty. He is facing separate state charges including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, and burglary. He has also pleaded not guilty to those charges. 

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