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Democrats criticize GOP after attack on Pelosi's husband: ‘Many people have stayed silent’

"The Republican Party’s response is to either ignore it or belittle it," said Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
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Some Democrats criticized Republicans after the assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, accusing their colleagues across the aisle of failing to sufficiently condemn violent rhetoric targeting lawmakers.

“Many people have stayed silent during this time — not Liz Cheney, not Adam Kinzinger within their own party,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said Sunday on NBC News’ "Meet the Press," referring to two GOP lawmakers on the House Jan. 6 committee.

“I think it is really important that people realize that it is not just this moment of this horrific attack but that we have seen violence perpetrated throughout our political system," she said. “And there are several things we can do from the security standpoint. ... But it is also about making sure we don’t add more election deniers to our political system."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with her husband Paul on Capitol Hill on Jan. 3, 2019.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with her husband, Paul, on Capitol Hill on Jan. 3, 2019.Zach Gibson / Getty Images file

An intruder attacked Paul Pelosi at the couple’s California home early Friday. San Francisco police alleged that David DePape, 42, who faces attempted murder and other charges, broke into the home, which was occupied at the time only by Paul Pelosi, and confronted him, ending with a tug-of-war over a hammer. Two sources said the intruder was searching for Nancy Pelosi, who was in Washington, D.C.

Although a motive remains under investigation, several Democrats swiftly condemned Republicans, saying they have not done enough to address the issue of violence and threats against lawmakers.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., tweeted Saturday that a line must be drawn that connects “violent political rhetoric and violent acts.”

“The Pelosi assailant’s Facebook page looks identical to the Facebook pages of Trump, Taylor Greene, and Boebert,” Swalwell wrote, referring to former President Donald Trump and Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. “All three of them have glorified violence and Depape acted on it.”

Hours after the attack, several prominent Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., condemned the assault and wished Pelosi a swift recovery.

But some Democrats expressed worries about the rise of violent rhetoric and accused Republicans of failing to act to combat it.

“A far right white nationalist tried to assassinate the Speaker of the House and almost killed her husband a year after violent insurrectionists tried to find her and kill her in the Capitol,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., tweeted Saturday. “And the Republican Party’s response is to either ignore it or belittle it.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., slammed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for his delayed response to the attack. “Yesterday, a man sharing that member’s rhetoric tried to assassinate the Speaker and her spouse,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Saturday.

“What has @GOPLeader said? Nothing,” Ocasio-Cortez said, referring to McCarthy. “This is who he is.”

In a statement shortly after the attack, a spokesperson for McCarthy said he reached out to the speaker hours after the assault. McCarthy told Breitbart radio Saturday that he condemns the violence, and he said the attack was “wrong.”

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., took aim at Greene after she condemned the attack.

“YOU called for Nancy Pelosi to be executed, @RepMTG,” McGovern tweeted. “YOU said she should be hung for treason."

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, pushed back against the Democrats, saying it is “unfair” to link GOP rhetoric to the attack because the attacker was a “deranged individual.”

“You can’t say people saying ‘let’s fire Pelosi’ or ‘let’s take back the House’ is saying go do violence. It’s just unfair,” McDaniel said.

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called the attack "disgusting" Sunday. But he stopped short of condemning false conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 riot that the suspect is alleged to have shared on social media.

“I think what we have to do is, one, we have to condemn the violence, and then we have to do everything we can to get people — make sure people feel comfortable about these elections,” Scott said on CNN's "State of the Union." "I think what’s important is everybody do everything we can to make these elections fair."

Asked how concerned he is about the risk of political violence, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said that violence has “no place” but that “more information” about the attack is needed.

"The incident in San Francisco, tragic as it is, I think we need some more information about it,” Emmer said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” “But we should all be feeling for Paul Pelosi and his family. Hopefully there will be a 100% recovery.”

A memo that was circulated Saturday to congressional offices highlighted the available security resources for offices and congressional members, such as residential security assessments and law enforcement coordination. The memo also acknowledged an uptick in threats against lawmakers and the attack on Pelosi’s husband.

“Meanwhile, across the country, the USCP Threat Assessment Section is working around the clock to stop thousands of potential threats in their tracks,” the memo reads, referring to U.S. Capitol Police. “Despite that work, it is critical that we urge you all to take advantage of additional USCP resources that could help protect you and your families.”

President Joe Biden, after voting early in Delaware, said Saturday that condemning the attack goes hand in hand with condemning those who boost baseless claims of a “stolen” election.

“The generic point I want to make is that, you know, it’s one thing to condemn the violence,” he said. “But you can’t condemn the violence unless you condemn those people who continue to argue the election was not real, that it’s being stolen — all the malarkey that’s being put out there to undermine democracy.”

The attack occurred less than two weeks before the midterm elections, which will determine the balance of power in Congress.