Paul Pelosi should not have been left unguarded on October 28 when he suffered David DePape’s hammer attack. Pelosi is the husband of the speaker of the House and he should have been safe in their house in the upscale San Francisco neighborhood of Pacific Heights. So why was he left unguarded? The answer has more to do with Nancy Pelosi’s January 6 committee than you might think.
Whatever Mr. Pelosi was doing, and whomever he was with on the night of October 28, he wasn’t properly protected by security. While some suspect the incompetence of the Capitol Police (who are now 0-2 for two major security incidents involving Congress in less than two years) one cannot escape the most logical conclusion: Paul Pelosi was not being guarded by security because that’s the way he wanted it.
Of course, he is entitled to privacy within his own home. But thanks to his wife he had to choose between privacy and safety. In the headlong rush to get Trump, Nancy Pelosi’s House of Representatives destroyed the “bodyguard’s privilege,” and placed her husband in greater danger.
The attack on Pelosi dramatically demonstrated exactly what lawyers for Bill Clinton warned might happen if political enemies became able to turn bodyguards into de facto spies against the protectee. Bill Clinton famously enjoyed the company of women who were not his wife. In 1998, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s jurisdiction somehow morphed from investigating Clinton’s role in a land deal in Arkansas into a sprawling inquiry into Clinton’s sexual dalliances. He reasoned that Clinton’s protective detail in the Secret Service likely saw evidence of his infidelity and, accordingly, he sought their testimony.
Since then, the January 6 committee followed Starr’s example—seeking texts and observations of Secret Service agents charged with protecting the president. The committee’s most dramatic testimony came from Cassidy Hutchinson who claimed second-hand knowledge of a confrontation between Trump and the Secret Service agents charged with his protection.
Regardless of the legal basis for piercing that inner zone of privacy, the January 6 committee paraded the sordid account before television cameras to an international audience. It’s not unreasonable to assume that Mr. Pelosi might have been watching this testimony and concluded that the worm could easily turn the other direction. The Hutchinson testimony likely informed him of the perils of private conduct in the presence of security.
There are obvious and glaring gaps in the official account of what happened on October 28 when Pelosi was attacked. The FBI, which seems to specialize in protecting Democrats from their scandals, has filed a problematic affidavit which clearly leaves out or distorts information about the attack. Notably, the FBI claims that, “When the door was opened, Pelosi and DEPAPE were both holding a hammer with one hand.” That seems to suggest that a third person opened the door. But later in the affidavit the FBI claims, The police arrived and knocked on the door, and Pelosi ran over and opened it. Pelosi [then] grabbed onto DePape’s hammer,” after which DePape, “pulled the hammer away from Pelosi and swung the hammer towards Pelosi.”
So, according to the FBI affidavit, Paul Pelosi let the police into the house but then ran over to DePape to grapple for the hammer? That makes zero sense and we’re obviously missing some information. There are, of course, many more unanswered questions. How did DePape, who lived on Shasta Street in Richmond, make the 15.6 mile trip to Pacific Heights? Did he have a ride? Why did police send DePape to the hospital instead of taking him straight to jail?
But these questions don’t really matter in light of the bigger problem the January 6 committee created in its headlong assault on the important privilege of protecting communication within the presence of a security detail.
Democrats, but not the Pelosis, have blamed speech critical of the speaker as the root cause of the attack. But Mr. Pelosi was not injured by a mean tweet or misinformation. As much as Democrats want protection from unflattering political speech, that’s not how politics work in a free country. Even George Washington had to contend with misinformation. If anything, Democrats enjoy historically unprecedented censorship protection coordinated between the administrative state and social media.
Even that is not enough. Democrats want more, of course. Some Pelosi critics have quietly snickered over innuendo that Mr. Pelosi might have been in the midst of something private or embarrassing when the attack occured. Well Mr. Pelosi should have been entitled to privacy and physical safety. He should not have had to choose between the two. But he apparently did because, as his wife’s January 6 committee so dramatically illustrated, your bodyguards might someday be turned against you.
Politicians and their spouses, like all of us, are human beings who do things they would prefer remain private. But under the January 6 standard, a zealous political enemy can turn a guard into a witness against you. Thus, to engage in truly private conduct, a protectee must duck their detail placing themselves in greater danger. This is an obvious gap in security that must be remedied. Congress should formally enact legislation restoring the bodyguard’s privilege before something even worse than the DePape attack happens.