the assailant was indeed targeting the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

“A despicable act” for which “There is no place in America” : it is with these words that the American president, Joe Biden, condemned the violent attack on Friday, October 28, against Paul Pelosi, the husband of the president of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. This attack comes less than two weeks before the midterm elections in which the Democratic leader is standing.

The assailant, who broke into the couple’s home in San Francisco overnight from Thursday to Friday, was clearly targeting the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement. “Earlier this morning, Paul Pelosi was attacked at his home by an assailant who used force and threatened him with death, demanding to see the president”, said the spokesperson. The latter, 82, was in Washington at the time of the attack.

The assailant broke into the couple’s residence around 2:30 a.m. local time, city police chief Bill Scott said. Visibly looking for Nancy Pelosi, he reportedly screamed “Where’s Nancy?” » before attacking ” violently ” her husband with a hammer. Paul Pelosi, also in his 80s, has “successfully operated on a fractured skull and serious injuries to his right arm and hands”, said Drew Hammill. The doctors “think he will make a full recovery”he continued.

The motives of the suspect, who was taken into custody, are the subject of an investigation involving the federal police (FBI) and the Capitol police, responsible for protecting members of Congress. One thing is certain, it was not an attack ” randomly “ but of an act “intentional”confirmed Bill Scott.

“When a party says the elections are stolen…”

“There is too much violence, political violence, too much hatred, too much vitriol”, regretted Joe Biden during a campaign trip to Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), reacting to this aggression. The president pointed out that some protesters who broke into the Capitol on January 6, 2021 also shouted “Where’s Nancy?” ».

“And what makes us think that when a party says the election is stolen or Covid is a lie, (…) it’s not going to affect people who may not be fully balanced.”, launched the Democrat, in a thinly veiled allusion to his Republican opponents. Worrying about the possibility that it won’t “corrodes the political climate”Joe Biden called on officials on all sides to ” to oppose “ to this violence.

Senate Republican Opposition Leader Mitch McConnell had earlier said “horrified and disgusted” by this attack.

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In recent months, many elected officials have warned of renewed violence against the political class, Republican Senator from Maine, Susan Collins, declaring that she will not be ” surprise “ if an elected official or senator “got killed”. ‘What started out as aggressive phone calls now translates into threats and actual violence’assured the elected 69-year-old, after an individual broke a window in his home in Maine.

“This violence is terrifying”reacted on Friday, Democratic MP Pramila Jayapal, who herself had to call the authorities when a man had gone to his home several times in July, uttering insults with a weapon in his belt.

Sharp increase in violence against elected officials since the Trump era

Acts of violence against American elected officials are not new. In January 2011, Democrat Gabby Giffords was close to death after being shot in the head during a meeting with citizens in Tucson, Arizona.

But according to Capitol Police, threats against members of Congress have more than doubled since 2017, when Donald Trump was inaugurated.

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Experts are particularly concerned about attacks from far-right groups. Several members of these militias are accused of having heavily armed themselves to attack the Capitol in order to keep Donald Trump in power on January 6, 2021.

Thousands of supporters of the former president had plunged the capital of the United States into chaos, forcing elected officials to evacuate the hemicycle of the House of Representatives by crawling, gas masks on their heads. Several protesters then broke into Nancy Pelosi’s office and marched through the halls of Congress, shouting: “Where are you Nancy?” »

Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, at the 44th Annual Kennedy Center Honors Dinner at the Library of Congress in Washington on December 4, 2021.
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Le Monde with AP and AFP

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