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- Local and federal authorities are investigating the attack on Paul Pelosi. A criminal justice expert said it seems clear that federal jurisdiction may exist here.
A social media post suggests the FBI is inappropriately involved in investigating the Oct. 28 attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"The Pelosi incident is a local law enforcement matter. Yet immediately upon SFPD and SFDA not reciting Pelosi’s narrative to the letter, the FBI took over and did exactly that," one Instagram post said, referring to the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco district attorney.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
We reached out to the San Francisco police department and district attorney’s office about the post but didn’t hear back.
According to the Department of Justice, the FBI San Francisco Field Office, the U.S. Capitol Police and the San Francisco Police Department are investigating the incident in which David DePape is accused of breaking into the San Francisco residence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi and hitting him in the head with a hammer.
Paul Pelosi called 911 early that morning after the breakin and two San Francisco police officers drove to the house and detained DePape, according to a federal criminal complaint filed against DePape. He was booked in the county jail and remained there as of Nov. 3 on state charges that include burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, threatening the family member of a public official, dissuading a witness from reporting a crime, injuring and imprisoning an elderly citizen, and attempted murder.
DePape also faces federal charges: assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. The Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California is prosecuting that case, according to the Justice Department.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced the state charges against DePape after the federal charges were filed. Jenkins said the state case would move on a parallel track to the federal charges, Politico reported.
David Shapiro, a former FBI special agent and assistant prosecutor who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told PolitiFact that federal involvement in criminal cases confers several advantages to victims, such as more investigative and prosecutorial resources, and the case may fit better under federal criminal law than state law. Because Paul Pelosi is the husband of the U.S. House speaker, for example, the federal charges he faces are specific to federal officials and their immediate family members.
Jurisdictions can overlap, Shapiro said, and in this case, "it seems clear that federal jurisdiction may exist," though as evidence is developed and the facts of the case become clearer, jurisdiction does, too.
Shapiro also said he doesn't see significant differences between San Francisco and federal authorities’ comments and court filings about the case.
"Both talking points pivot on the same key evidence," Shapiro said.
Conspiracy theories have circulated online since the attack claiming a cover-up based on unfounded or inaccurate grounds. This is among them. We rate claims that the FBI is investigating this case because local authorities weren’t parroting Pelosi’s talking points False.
Instagram post, Nov. 2, 2022
Federal criminal complaint against David DePape, Oct. 31, 2022
Politico, State charges alone could mean decades in prison in attack on Pelosi, Oct. 31, 2022
PBS NewsHour, WATCH: DA announces charges against Paul Pelosi attacker in San Francisco Superior Court, Oct. 31, 2022
The New York Times, Read the document that reveals new details about the Pelosi attack, Nov. 1, 2022
Department of Justice, Man Charged with Assault and Attempted Kidnapping Following Breaking and Entering of Pelosi Residence, Oct. 31, 2022
Email interview with David Shapiro, distinguished lecturer, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Nov. 2, 2022
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