Nov 8, 2022
Pelosi describes her experience following husband’s attack that was intended for her Transcript
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi describes learning her husband Paul had been assaulted in their California home in an attack originally intended for her. Read the transcript here.
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Anderson Cooper (00:00):
First of all, I’m so sorry for all that’s happened. How is your husband doing? What does his recovery look like?
Nancy Pelosi (00:06):
Well, thank you. Thank you for asking, new comment. He’s doing okay. It’s a long haul, but he knows he has to pace himself. He’s such a gentleman that he’s not complaining, but he’s also knowing that it’s a long haul. He’s so concerned about the traumatic effect on our children and our grandchildren and we’re concerned about the traumatic effect on him. But again, he’s on a good path with excellent care from San Francisco General and his healthcare providers.
Anderson Cooper (00:40):
Has he been able to talk to you about what he was thinking when he woke up and found this person in the room?
Nancy Pelosi (00:48):
We haven’t quite had that conversation because any revisiting of it is really traumatizing. It was hard, and one of the hardest things all week was to go back into the house for him in the entrance, which is of course where-
Anderson Cooper (01:02):
Where the attack took place.
Nancy Pelosi (01:03):
… he was hit. And of course upstairs in the bedroom where that person made his entrance, shall we say. But so we haven’t, and the doctors have said, and we don’t want him to watch the news, we don’t want him to be revisiting a lot of this, at least not now, because it will add to the trauma. And the operation was the success. But it’s only one part of the recovery, the traumatic to a drastic head injury, it takes some time.
Anderson Cooper (01:40):
Have you been able to listen to the 911 call?
Nancy Pelosi (01:40):
No. I haven’t been able to listen to that or the body cam, any of that. No. I imagine when it is in the public domain is when I will have a chance to see it. But even then, the physician-
Anderson Cooper (01:51):
Do you want to hear it?
Nancy Pelosi (01:53):
I don’t think so. I don’t think so. But I don’t know if I’ll have to. I just don’t know. That’s all a matter on the legal side of things.
Anderson Cooper (02:03):
There are obviously a lot of details in the affidavit, but had your husband not had the presence of mind to call 911 and be able to call 911, there’s no telling what would’ve happened.
Nancy Pelosi (02:15):
He was cool and Paul’s cool, he was cool. He called with enough information, but not too much information because the guy was very threatening. He was very big. I don’t know if you can see that in all, he’s very big, 6’4 260. So-
Anderson Cooper (02:33):
Nancy Pelosi (02:33):
Anderson Cooper (02:34):
Nancy Pelosi (02:35):
The assailant. And he was right there just like a few feet away from Paul hearing all of this. So he had to… And he saved his life. Paul saved his own life with that call because that really gave enough information to go.
Anderson Cooper (02:51):
Had the 911 operator not been… Figured it out.
Nancy Pelosi (02:57):
God bless her for that and then took it from one level of concern to another and therefore the police came and that’s what got the police there.
Anderson Cooper (03:09):
Where were you when you got the news?
Nancy Pelosi (03:11):
Well, I was sleeping in Washington DC. I had just gotten in the night before from San Francisco and I hear the doorbell ring and think, it’s five something. I look up, I see it’s five who… They must be the wrong apartment. No, it rings again and then bang, bang, bang, bang, bang on the door. So I run to the door and I’m very scared. I see the Capitol police and they said, “We have to come in to talk to you.” And I’m thinking, my children, my grandchildren. I never thought it would be Paul because I knew he wouldn’t be out and about shall we say.
And so they came in. At that time, we didn’t even know where he was or what his condition was. We just knew there was an assault on him in our home and now they were taking him to a hospital, which turned out to be San Francisco General, which is leading trauma center. Thank God they went there. It wasn’t the closest. We have hospitals a few blocks away. It wasn’t the closest, but it was the right place to go for that.
Anderson Cooper (04:23):
He was actually struck in the head with the hammer?
Nancy Pelosi (04:26):
Right on the top, two places and that’s pretty awful. That’s pretty awful. But the good news was when he had the operation and we were blessed by the healthcare professionals at San Francisco General, they told us it had not pierced his brain, which could be deadly or worse.
Anderson Cooper (04:50):
So the hammer had not actually gone-
Nancy Pelosi (04:52):
Oh no, it had cracked. Yeah. Well, what they have to do is they have to take off the skull, reshape it, put it back so it isn’t scratch or pierced the brain. So it’s a pretty serious operation.
Anderson Cooper (05:05):
There’s always concern about swelling also on the brain.
Nancy Pelosi (05:07):
Always concerned about hematomas, all the rest of that. But my son Paul told me that when he… See, I got on the plane right away to come to California, but he was now out of the operation and Paul said, “Mommy’s on her way here.” And Paul said, the first thing he said, “Oh, your mother’s going to be very happy because the Ravens won last night.”
Anderson Cooper (05:34):
That’s what your husband said out of the operation?
Nancy Pelosi (05:37):
Yeah, Baltimore, my Baltimore connection. So we thought, “Well, okay, he’s with it.” He remembers they won and obviously knows my… After the 49ers, my dedication to the Ravens.
Anderson Cooper (05:52):
You were the intended target.
Nancy Pelosi (05:53):
Anderson Cooper (05:54):
The assailant has told police, it’s in a sworn affidavit that he wanted to take you hostage, interrogate you, break your kneecaps with a hammer if you didn’t give him the answers that he wanted.
Nancy Pelosi (06:09):
For me, this is really the hard part because Paul was not the target and he’s the one who’s paying the price. We all are, but he’s the one who’s really paying the price. But it really is really sad because it is a flame that was fueled by misinformation and all the rest of that, which is most unfortunate. It has no place in our democracy.
Anderson Cooper (06:37):
President Biden drew a line between what happened on January 6th and the attack on your husband. The president said, I quote, “The assailant entered the home asking, ‘Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?’ Those were the very same words used by the mob when they stormed the United States Capitol in January 6th.”
Nancy Pelosi (06:54):
That’s right. That’s right.
Anderson Cooper (06:55):
Do you draw that same line?
Nancy Pelosi (06:57):
Absolutely. There’s no question. It’s the same thing and a copycat or whatever it happens to be, inflamed by the same misrepresentation. But the fact is, right now, it’s time for healing. We want the country to heal. This is not a path that we can continue on and we want people to run for office local in every way. And you can’t say to them, “You’re risking the safety of your families by going forward.” There are no guarantees of safety.
I’m very pleased that in August we were able to reach a place where the sergeant of arms informed the members of the House of a amount of money that they would have $10,000 and have the Capitol police come and evaluate what their needs were to make their homes safer. Because there was a recognition, when we’re gone, our families are home and that’s scary. Or even if we are home. So we recognize that. It was figured that that amount of money could do what it needed to do in the homes.
Anderson Cooper (08:06):
But you have a large security detail. You have great protection around you. If this can happen to someone in your family, it can happen to any member of Congress’ family.
Nancy Pelosi (08:20):
Anderson Cooper (08:22):
No amount of security is going to stop that. How does this stop? How does this not happen again?
Nancy Pelosi (08:28):
Well, you would think that there would be some level of responsibility, but you see what the reaction is on the other side to this, to make a joke a bit, and really that is traumatizing too, but nonetheless, forgetting them. There has to be some healing process. And Democrats and Republicans, member of Congress, anybody could be a target and there’s no guarantee, but we can… In our democracy, there is one party that is doubting the outcome of the election, feeding that flame and mocking any violence that happens. That has to stop.
Anderson Cooper (09:13):
The former president of the United States, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, others have spread stories casting doubt on what happened, fomenting conspiracy theories, what do you have to say to them?
Nancy Pelosi (09:28):
It’s really sad for the country. It’s really sad for the country that people of that high visibility would separate themselves from the facts and the truth in such a blatant way. It’s really sad and it is traumatizing to those affected by it. They don’t care about that, obviously, but it’s destructive to the unity that we want to have in our country. But I don’t have anything to say to them. We have nothing. There would be no common ground to have any conversation with them.
Anderson Cooper (10:04):
Is there enough common ground as Americans to try to bridge this divide and lower the temperature? Because I think people on all sides would agree that it does not seem sustainable.
Nancy Pelosi (10:18):
No, I completely agree with you, but I wouldn’t say on all sides, because the fact is this is a one-sided assault on our democracy, an assault on the credibility, integrity of our elections and the rest. There has to be some adult supervision on the Republican side in order to say, “Enough. Enough.” But why not? We need a strong Republican party in our country. I’ve said that over and over again.
Anderson Cooper (10:45):
You want a strong Republican party.
Nancy Pelosi (10:47):
Absolutely, GOP is a strong Republican party, done great things for our country, and they should take pride in that instead of yielding to a cult, to a thug, actually the way I see it, but nonetheless, really to stay with the healing part of it. I think that prayers, we have been receiving so many prayers, thousands of well wishers with prayers for Paul’s healing, and I think prayers are a unifying force.
I also think that there are enough people who, while they may legitimately be Republicans and I respect that, are not a party to feeding the flame of violence and disunity in our country. Let me just say that it’s about time. It’s a time for healing as Ecclesiastes says. Ecclesiastes says there’s a time for everything. And this is a time long overdue for healing; to do so in a prayerful and respectful way; to do so open to hearing each other about the future of our country.
I do believe that our democracy is in danger because of what the others are saying about undermining elections even now as we go forward. I think that if enough people in our country are aware of what that challenge is, it might change behavior on the other side. But I do think a great deal of the healing has to come within the Republican party itself. And it’s not up to me to tell them how to shape themselves, but again, it is to have them take pride in what they have been and what they have done for our country.
Anderson Cooper (12:38):
If the former President Donald Trump runs again, do you think that healing is possible?
Nancy Pelosi (12:45):
I’m just in a place where I’m not ready to talk about what comes next. Tomorrow is a very big day for our country. Our democracy is on the ballot, our planet is on the ballot, our values are on the ballot.
Anderson Cooper (12:58):
How concerned are you about tomorrow?
Nancy Pelosi (13:01):
As I said, I have heard from at least 50 of our candidates in races that are, shall we say, in some view too close to call and our view ours, and I feel optimistic. Just depends on turnout. And I’m a former party chair and I’m always about owning the ground and getting out the vote, and I feel confident that we’re in that position. Their races are close. Some of them could go one way or another. We could split it. We’ll see. But it’s up to the people and whatever happens, we will respect the results of the election.