Surveillance cameras installed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home captured the burglary before her husband was attacked by a man with a hammer last week, but US Capitol police officers were not monitoring them at the time active, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The New York Times later confirmed the report Tuesday.
The news raises additional questions about how someone broke into the Democratic leader’s home on Friday and assaulted Paul Pelosi, who remains hospitalized after undergoing surgery for his injuries. But it also reflects the ongoing difficulties Capitol Police and local law enforcement are having in protecting members of Congress amid a spate of violent threats.
As Speaker of the House who faces a near-constant target of conservative anger, Pelosi receives more brutal death threats than any other member of Congress. But the total numbers against lawmakers have increased more than tenfold in the five years since Donald Trump was elected president.
The Capitol Police monitor about 1,800 cameras every day, most in the Capitol complex in Washington but a few elsewhere in the country. The Post notes that the agency installed cameras at Pelosi’s home eight years ago and that it has a 24-hour security detail. But she left her home in San Francisco last week, and most of the security people went with her. The cameras weren’t constantly monitored while she was in Washington, either.
David DePape is accused of breaking into Pelosi’s home to kidnap the announcer and “break her kneecaps,” according to The Associated Press. The Post, citing current and former law enforcement officials, said officers monitoring Capitol Police feeds early Friday didn’t realize there was a problem until they saw police lights flashing on the feeds from Pelosi’s home.
Paul Pelosi called 911 after the burglary and police arrived while he was being assaulted.
Police stand at the end of the closed street outside the home of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi in San Francisco on Friday. Paul Pelosi was badly beaten by an attacker who broke into her home.
DePape has since been charged with attempted murder, burglary and attempted kidnapping of a US official. He was held without bail at a arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday after pleading not guilty.
Lawmakers are reportedly considering how to better address security concerns following the recent attacks and the aftermath of the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol. The Post added that U.S. Capitol Police are reminding those on the Hill of the resources available, including funding for home security systems and increased security budgets for individual lawmakers who may face more threats.
The Capitol Police have worked to improve intelligence and strengthen ties with local law enforcement. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Tuesday the attack on Paul Pelosi was an “alarming reminder of the dangerous threats facing elected officials and public figures in today’s contentious political climate.”
“During this time of heightened political tensions, we continue to monitor thousands of cases across the country — in an effort to stop potential threats before they make headlines,” Manger said in a statement, noting the agency is on the right track to to achieve a goal of hiring 280 additional officers by the end of the year.
Most members of Congress receive little security from the government, and it is rare for their families to enjoy taxpayer-funded protections. Although a recent review of Capitol security recommended the Capitol Police hire 800 new officers, that suggestion was not followed.
The Times noted that Republicans and Democrats receive similar levels of threats, but the GOP has refused to spend money to strengthen lawmaker protections. After the Pelosi attack, some Democrats said they would push to address the lack of new funding again.
“It is inconceivable that the family of the person, the woman second to the presidency, would not have adequate security,” Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) told the Times. “I think it’s important that we address this inconsistency.”
Congress has included nearly $708 million in funding for the Capitol Police for 2023 in its appropriation bills to be passed after the midterm elections.