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Paul Pelosi: Who is spreading false claims about attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband? – BBC News



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Paul Pelosi, the husband of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was attacked by a hammer-wielding intruder at the couple’s San Francisco home in the early hours of Friday.

Within hours of the attack, a series of unsubstantiated claims began circulating in fringe far-right circles that contradicted the official police account of how the attack unfolded.

Those misleading claims have since gone viral after being amplified by new Twitter chief Elon Musk and a number of conservative influencers.

BBC News examines some of the claims about the attack.

False same-sex affair claims

One of the most viral false claims about the attack suggests that Mr Pelosi, 82, and his attacker David DePape, 42, were in a same-sex relationship and had a drunken quarrel.

A series of baseless assumptions that do not match official accounts of the incident have been used to support the narrative.

These claims started to trend in the US after Elon Musk tweeted an article from a website featuring similar claims to his 112 million followers on Sunday, before deleting his tweet without any explanation hours later.

“There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” Mr Musk had said in response to a tweet by former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The website Mr Musk linked to has a history of publishing inaccurate stories, including an article from 2016 that claimed Hillary Clinton was dead.

One of the claims made online is that both Mr DePape and Mr Pelosi were in just their underwear as police arrived at the scene.

But the FBI complaint against Mr DePape quotes a witness as saying he was dressed “in all black” carrying a large black bag on his back.

Another claim seized on to support this narrative is that the two men knew each other before the attack and were friends.

According to the FBI complaint, Paul Pelosi did not know Mr DePape. Mr Pelosi used coded language as he made a 911 call from the bathroom, and an experienced operator worked out what was happening in his house.

Another rumour supporting the idea that the two men knew each other claimed that the shattered glass door of the house was broken from the inside, suggesting Mr Pelosi or a third person had let Mr DePape in.

The FBI complaint quotes Mr DePape as saying that he “broke into the house through a glass door, which was a difficult task that required the use of a hammer”.

There is no evidence in any of the police accounts that a third person was either in the house or involved in the attack.

Claims DePape’s blogs were faked

Two personal blogs and a Facebook account in the suspect’s name were found on the internet after police revealed his name following the attack, all of which were subsequently taken down.

His writings, viewed by the BBC, suggest he was a man radicalised by far-right conspiracy theories.

His posts cover a range of subjects, including unsubstantiated theories that the 2020 election was stolen, the 6 January Capitol riot, claims that Covid vaccines were harmful, support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, as well as racist and anti-Semitic posts.

Some online posts suggested the blogs were fake and only created on the day of the attack to support the narrative that he believed in far-right conspiracy theories.

Some have also claimed the attack was not motivated by politics or Mr DePape’s beliefs.

Conservative commentator Matt Walsh said it was “absurd” to portray the attacker as “a militant right winger”.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz echoed Mr Walsh’s words, simply tweeting “truth”.

However, the police complaint clarifies the attack was not a random act. According to San Francisco’s district attorney Brooke Jenkins, the attack was likely “politically motivated”.

In his police interview, Mr DePape described Nancy Pelosi as the “leader of the pack of lies told by the Democratic Party”, adding that he wanted to “break her kneecaps”.

Conservative figures, including Congressman Steve Scalise and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, have also been targets of violent attacks by political opponents in recent years.

Evidence-free accusations against Marjorie Taylor Greene

Baseless theories in the aftermath of the attack weren’t confined to the right.

Some liberal influencers seized on a tweet by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, posted a day prior to the attack, which read: “Just wait until tomorrow.”

A number of accounts with large liberal followings claimed that Ms Taylor Greene’s tweet could be a hint that she was in on the attack on Mr Pelosi. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory.