Pelosi assault suspect facing federal assault, attempted kidnapping charges

The justice department has announced charges against David DePape, who was arrested on Friday for allegedly breaking in to House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco residence and assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi.

DePape will face a charge of assault on a family member of a US official in retaliation for their work, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, the justice department said. He will also face a charge of attempting to kidnap a US official over their work, for which he could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Paul Pelosi, who was injured in the attack.
Paul Pelosi, who was injured in the attack. Photograph: Mike Theiler/Reuters

Following DePape’s early Friday morning arrest for the attack, which left Paul Pelosi needing surgery for a skull fracture along with other injuries, San Francisco’s police chief announced DePape was being held on suspicion of several charges, including attempted murder. The city’s district attorney is expected to formally level charges against him today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The justice department has announced charges against David DePape, who was arrested on Friday for allegedly breaking in to House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco residence and assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi.

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DePape will face a charge of assault on a family member of a US official in retaliation for their work, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, the justice department said. He will also face a charge of attempting to kidnap a US official over their work, for which he could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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Following DePape’s early Friday morning arrest for the attack, which left Paul Pelosi needing surgery for a skull fracture along with other injuries, San Francisco’s police chief announced DePape was being held on suspicion of several charges, including attempted murder. The city’s district attorney is expected to formally level charges against him today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

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Donald Trump has filed an emergency petition to the supreme court, asking it to halt the release of six years of his tax returns to the House ways and means committee, Bloomberg Law reports.

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The Internal Revenue Service was on 3 November expected to turn over the documents to the Democratic-led committee, after the former president lost repeated lower court decisions to stop Congress from seeing the returns.

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Trump defied political norms and refused to turn over his tax filings during his first run for the presidency in 2016, saying they were being audited. He maintained that stance throughout his presidency and afterwards.

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Here’s more on the petition, from Bloomberg Law:

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The case presents “important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future President,” Trump’s lawyers argued. Allowing the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain a president’s tax returns would “render the office of the Presidency vulnerable to invasive information demands from political opponents in the legislative branch,” they added.

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Trump’s lawyers also questioned the committee’s reasons for why it wanted his financial records, claiming the true purpose was to release Trump’s tax documents “to the public for the sake of exposure.” They argued that the judges who initially heard the case showed too much deference to the committee and ran afoul of a balancing test laid out earlier by the Supreme Court in a fight over Congress’ access to Trump’s financial records, Trump v Mazars.

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Trump’s request to stop the committee from immediately getting the documents will go to Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts, who handles emergency matters out of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, could act on Trump’s request by himself or circulate it to the other justices for a vote.

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The six-justice conservative majority on the supreme court has shown skepticism towards universities’ race-based admissions policies during oral arguments today, the Associated Press reports.

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The court is hearing two cases concerning the University of North Carolina and Harvard University, in which the court’s six conservative justices could potentially ban the use of race as a factor in college admissions, a practice known as affirmative action.

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Such a decision would be the latest example of the court overturning longstanding precedent, after five of its nine justices earlier this year struck down Roe v Wade and allowed states to ban abortion.

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The AP reports that several members of the conservative bloc are known foes of the policy, and showed no indication of changing their minds about it during ongoing oral arguments in the two cases.

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Here’s more from the AP’s story:

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During arguments in the first of two cases, the court sounded split along ideological lines on the issue of affirmative action.

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Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s second Black justice who has a long record of opposition to affirmative action programs, noted he didn’t go to racially diverse schools. “I’ve heard the word ‘diversity’ quite a few times and I don’t have a clue what it means,” the conservative justice said at one point. At another point he said: “Tell me what the educational benefits are?”

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett, another conservative, pointed to one of the court’s previous affirmative action cases and said it anticipated an end to the use of affirmative action, saying it was “dangerous, and it has to have an end point.” When, she asked, is that end point?

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Justice Samuel Alito likened affirmative action to a race in which a minority applicant gets to “start five yards closer to the finish line.” But liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Hispanic justice, rejected that comparison saying what universities are doing is looking at students as a whole.

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Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s newest justice and its first Black female, also said that race was being used at the University of North Carolina as part of a broad review of applicants along 40 different factors.

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“They’re looking at the full person with all of these characteristics,” she said.

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Justice Elena Kagan called universities the “pipelines to leadership in our society” and suggested that without affirmative action minority enrollment will drop.

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“I thought part of what it meant to be an American and to believe in American pluralism is that actually our institutions, you know, are reflective of who we are as a people in all our variety,” she said.

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The Supreme Court has twice upheld race-conscious college admissions programs in the past 19 years, including just six years ago.

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Joe Biden will this afternoon mull levying a tax on energy companies’ profits in a speech planned for 4:30 pm. The last-minute address comes as Democrats look to reclaim credibility with voters on their handling of the economy ahead of next week’s midterm elections, which will decide the balance of power in Congress for the coming two years.

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Here’s what else happened today:

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  • Biden will reunite with Barack Obama in Philadelphia on Saturday to campaign for the state’s Democratic nominees for Senate and governor.

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  • Democrats have a slight advantage in three crucial Senate races, and are in a dead heat for a fourth, according to a New York Times poll.

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  • The supreme court is hearing arguments in two cases that its conservative majority could use to end affirmative action.

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In his speech this afternoon on oil companies’ record profits, Joe Biden will discuss whether to impose a windfall tax on energy firms, the Associated Press reports.

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Citing a person familiar with the matter, Biden will raise the possibility of a tax aimed specifically at energy companies’ profits as a way to encourage them to lower prices at the pump.

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The president is set to speak at 4:30 pm eastern time to “respond to reports over recent days of major oil companies making record-setting profits even as they refuse to help lower prices at the pump for the American people,” the White House announced earlier today. Rising gas prices have been a major drag on Biden and his Democratic allies’ public support ahead of the 8 November midterms, where polls indicate the state of the economy is voters’ top issue.

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Joe Biden will on Saturday again join forces with Barack Obama, under whom he served as vice-president, to rally for Pennsylvania’s Democratic senate candidate John Fetterman and gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro.

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The rally organized by the Democratic National Committee in Philadelphia comes as polls show Fetterman with only a slight advantage over his Republican challenger Mehmet Oz. Pennsylvania’s Senate seat is being vacated by a Republican, and represents one of Democrats’ best opportunities to add to their tiny majority in Congress’s upper chamber.

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Shapiro is believed to be in a much better position in his race against Republican Doug Mastriano, a 2020 election denier who backs banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and charging women who violate the prohibition with murder.

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Joe Biden will today make a speech about oil companies’ “record-setting profits” even as prices for gasoline remain elevated across the United States.

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The address was announced just minutes ago by the White House, which typically sets out the president’s schedule a day in advance, with rare changes.

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At 4:30 pm eastern time, “the president will respond to reports over recent days of major oil companies making record-setting profits even as they refuse to help lower prices at the pump for the American people,” according to the president’s updated schedule. The speech will take place at the White House. Biden is currently in New York City, attending a “private memorial service” for a party whose name has not been disclosed.

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Biden’s presidency thus far has been defined by inflation that has risen at rates not seen since the 1980s, sinking his approval rating and boosting Republicans’ chances of taking control of Congress in next week’s midterm elections. Americans are particularly sensitive to pump prices, and the nation’s average gas price hit an all-time high over the summer, before declining.

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Much of the increase has been caused by trends and disruptions in global oil markets brought about by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though the GOP has sought to place the blame squarely on the Biden administration’s energy policies. The president and his Democratic allies have, in turn, argued that oil majors were engaged in price gouging, and pointed to their healthy financials as evidence. Expect to hear more about that in Biden’s speech this afternoon.

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Democrats have a small lead over their Republican challengers in the crucial Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania Senate races, while Nevada is a dead heat, according to a New York Times poll released today:

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Control of the Senate rests on a knife’s edge, according to new polls by The New York Times and Siena College. The contests are close in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania. https://t.co/vwdSUIPigd

— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 31, 2022

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Assuming no Democratic incumbents lose elsewhere, winning those three states alone would ensure Joe Biden’s allies continue to control Congress’s upper chamber for another two years, even if Nevada senator Catherine Cortez Masto loses re-election to Republican Adam Laxalt. Polls are, however, uncertain, and there’s still enough time before the 8 November vote for the situation to change.

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The Senate is perhaps the more important of the two chambers for Democrats to control because it is responsible for considering executive appointees – such as supreme court justices. Years of GOP control during which Republicans presidents had their jurors confirmed created the court’s six-member conservative majority, which earlier this year overturned Roe v Wade and seems poised to strike down affirmative action policies at universities nationwide.

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Good morning, US politics blog readers. Months after they handed down a decision that ended nearly five decades of nationwide abortion rights, the supreme court’s conservative majority will today hear two cases that are predicted to bring about the end of affirmative action. The court’s six-justice conservative majority is known to be hostile to race-conscious admissions policies such as those at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, and is widely expected to use the cases as an opportunity to throw out another longstanding decision in favor of modern rightwing orthodoxy.

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Here’s what else is happening today:

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  • The Bidens are heading to New York, where Joe Biden will attend a private memorial service, and first lady Jill Biden will campaign for Democrats including gubernatorial candidate Kathy Hochul and congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.

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  • The man who attacked Paul Pelosi on Friday is likely to be formally charged today. He made clear during the attack on their San Francisco home that he was looking for his wife, Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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  • Reminder: the 8 November midterms are only eight days away! Voters will decide whether Democrats will control the Senate and House of Representatives for another two years, as well cast ballots for gubernatorial and statehouse candidates.

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Key events

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In the midst of midterms fervor, some Republicans have also used the attack as a chance to tout their “tough on crime” agendas.

Texas Congressman Lance Gooden tried to blame Democrats for the attack, responding defensively to evidence that DePape may have been spurred to violence by far-right rhetoric. Others include Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican candidate Kari Lake, and former president Donald Trump, who all blamed Democrats for not doing more to crack down on violent crime.

.@KariLake @ her event today:
“Nancy Pelosi, well, she’s got protection when she’s in DC — apparently her house doesn’t have a lot of protection.”
The crowd burst into laughter and the moderator was laughing so hard he covered his face with his notes. From @KateSullivanDC

— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/KyungLahCNN/status/1587188182847660032″,”id”:”1587188182847660032″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”d61fd2ea-9164-46f0-8b16-fdb11481f322″}}”>

.@KariLake @ her event today:
“Nancy Pelosi, well, she’s got protection when she’s in DC — apparently her house doesn’t have a lot of protection.”
The crowd burst into laughter and the moderator was laughing so hard he covered his face with his notes. From @KateSullivanDC

— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) October 31, 2022

From Forbes:

Americans’ concerns about crime have increased over the past year, particularly among Republicans, leading GOP candidates to make the issue a central focus of their midterm campaigns. Nearly 80% of respondents in a recent Gallup poll said they believe crime is rising nationally, while 56% think crime is rising where they live.

While there’s an increasing perception of worsening crime, there’s isn’t strong data to support it. Forbes also highlighted how murder rates dropped 2.4% in the largest US cities this year, according to Major Cities Chiefs Association and violent crimes dipped 1% per FBI statistics.

But political divisiveness and aggressive rhetoric is fueling new concerns about the increase in attacks against public officials from both parties.

Let’s keep pretending that we don’t know the motivation for the attack on Paul Pelosi pic.twitter.com/3ySXnsD3FD

— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/1587188230507610115″,”id”:”1587188230507610115″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”9be40bfc-f1ac-49fd-b83e-797c372f5835″}}”>

The New York Times reports that there’s been a tenfold increase in threats of political violence since Trump’s election and representatives are increasingly worried about their safety.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a senator or House member were killed,” Senator Susan Collins told the New York Times. “What started with abusive phone calls is now translating into active threats of violence and real violence.”

In the aftermath of the attack, conservatives and divisive online personalities have floated conspiracy theories questioning the attack against Paul Pelosi and have helped fuel new rounds of misinformation.

From Rolling Stone:

Because DePape had a history of blogging about far-right ideas and even dabbled in QAnon conspiracy theories, the GOP has scrambled to deny that this was an attempted assassination of a leading Democrat. Some have gone as far as peddling a conspiracy theory of their own. An “opinion” piece in the fake news publication the Santa Monica Observer falsely claimed that DePape was a sex worker hired by Pelosi and the two had gotten into a physical dispute. The piece was amplified by, among others, Elon Musk, who later deleted his tweeted link without explanation or apology.”

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins told reporters Sunday that there is no evidence of a connection between the two men and details released by FBI officials Monday also counter the conspiratorial claims.

Musk, the new owner of Twitter, has come under criticism for spreading the misinformation, sparking concerns that he will do little to curb conspiracies amplified on the social media site.

“If Musk’s tweet doesn’t raise bright red warning signs all over the world about his judgment and character, just days after he took over one of the planet’s largest and most influential media machines, I don’t know what will,” Robert Reich, the former US secretary of labor wrote in an editorial for the Guardian. “That Musk would choose this tragedy to demonstrate the disgusting extremes such hateful lies can reach is another indictment of his character and judgment.”

During the terrifying ordeal, Paul Pelosi was able to dial 9-1-1 from a bathroom, court documents show, and officials have highlighted how the quick actions of the dispatcher may have saved his life.

With the line open after placing the emergency call, the dispatcher could hear the conversation between assailant David DePape and Pelosi. Two minutes later, the police arrived.

“I truly believe, based on what I know, that it was lifesaving,” San Francisco District Attorney Brook Jenkins told ABC News. Jenkins is expected to file additional charges on Monday afternoon.

Nancy Pelosi is far from the only Washington politician facing threats. Earlier today, Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell detailed just how menacing the atmosphere has become:

.@RepSwalwell (D-CA) says his chief of staff spends 10 hours per week dealing with threats to him and his staff:

“We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in security for myself and my staff. It almost rewards people who want to make threats.” pic.twitter.com/kvfA1GENb1

— The Recount (@therecount) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/therecount/status/1587152782779305985″,”id”:”1587152782779305985″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”8404054d-8103-4f4b-9efd-f0ffb60c4068″}}”>

.@RepSwalwell (D-CA) says his chief of staff spends 10 hours per week dealing with threats to him and his staff:

“We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in security for myself and my staff. It almost rewards people who want to make threats.” pic.twitter.com/kvfA1GENb1

— The Recount (@therecount) October 31, 2022

The San Francisco Chronicle has more details about David DePape, who is now facing federal charges over Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi.

“He has been homeless. This person really does suffer from mental illness and that is probably why he was there at 2am,” DePape’s longtime partner Oxane “Gypsy” Taub told the Chronicle in an interview. She said DePape used drugs and struggled with mental illness, to the point that he thought “he was Jesus for a year.”

The story paints a picture of DePape’s erratic life and bouts of homelessness that led to him being consumed by conspiracy theories, culminating in his attack on the Democratic House speaker’s husband.

Here’s more from the Chronicle:

Taub remembered DePape, 42, as a “shy and sweet” person who once supported her well-documented fight against San Francisco’s public nudity laws. “David never appeared nude in any of my events even though he was encouraged to,” she said. “He was uncomfortable.”

When the pair met in Hawaii in 2000, she said, DePape “didn’t know anything about politics,” but came to share her fervor for many progressive causes — though Taub also espoused conspiracy theories about the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

“I don’t think he became a Trump supporter,” Taub said Sunday. “He was against the government, but if anything he was opposed to the shadow government, against the people who really run the government and use politicians as puppets. Like Trump was a puppet. David and I were against the shadow government.”

Authorities say DePape, who most recently lived in Richmond, broke into the Pelosi home in San Francisco early Friday morning looking for the House speaker but found her husband alone. It’s not clear whether the intruder drove to the home or traveled there another way.

The justice department’s complaint for its charges against David DePape contains harrowing details of the assault on Paul Pelosi.

Here is what San Francisco police officers found when they responded to a 911 call at the Pelosi residence:

At 2:31 a.m., San Francisco Police Department (“SFPD”) Officer Colby Wilmes responded to the Pelosi residence, California and knocked on the front door. When the door was opened, Pelosi and DePape were both holding a hammer with one hand and DePape had his other hand holding onto Pelosi’s forearm. Pelosi greeted the officers. The officers asked them what was going on. DePape responded that everything was good. Officers then asked Pelosi and DePape to drop the hammer. DePape pulled the hammer from Pelosi’s hand and swung the hammer, striking Pelosi in the head. Officers immediately went inside and were able to restrain DePape.

Police found zip ties in the Pelosi residence that they said belonged to DePape, as well as retrieved from his backpack “a roll of tape, white rope, one hammer, one pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal.”

Here’s what Paul Pelosi told a police officer as he was going to the hospital:

Pelosi stated he had never seen DePape before. Pelosi was asleep when DePape came into Pelosi’s bedroom and stated he wanted to talk to “Nancy.” When Pelosi told him that Nancy was not there, DePape stated that he would sit and wait. Pelosi stated that his wife would not be home for several days and then DePape reiterated that he would wait. Pelosi was able to go into the bathroom which is when he was able to call 9- 1-1. Pelosi stated that when the officers arrived, that was when DePape struck him with the hammer.

Here is what DePape told San Francisco police in an interview following his arrest:

DePape stated that he was going to hold Nancy hostage and talk to her. If Nancy were to tell DePape the “truth,” he would let her go, and if she “lied,” he was going to break “her kneecaps.” DePape was certain that Nancy would not have told the “truth.” In the course of the interview, DePape articulated he viewed Nancy as the “leader of the pack” of lies told by the Democratic Party. DePape also later explained that by breaking Nancy’s kneecaps, she would then have to be wheeled into Congress, which would show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions.

The complaints adds that DePape “explained that he did not leave after Pelosi’s call to 9-1-1 because, much like the American founding fathers with the British, he was fighting against tyranny without the option of surrender. DePape reiterated this sentiment elsewhere in the interview.”

Pelosi assault suspect facing federal assault, attempted kidnapping charges

The justice department has announced charges against David DePape, who was arrested on Friday for allegedly breaking in to House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco residence and assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi.

DePape will face a charge of assault on a family member of a US official in retaliation for their work, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, the justice department said. He will also face a charge of attempting to kidnap a US official over their work, for which he could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Paul Pelosi, who was injured in the attack.
Paul Pelosi, who was injured in the attack. Photograph: Mike Theiler/Reuters

Following DePape’s early Friday morning arrest for the attack, which left Paul Pelosi needing surgery for a skull fracture along with other injuries, San Francisco’s police chief announced DePape was being held on suspicion of several charges, including attempted murder. The city’s district attorney is expected to formally level charges against him today, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Trump asks supreme court to stop House lawmakers from getting tax returns

Donald Trump has filed an emergency petition to the supreme court, asking it to halt the release of six years of his tax returns to the House ways and means committee, Bloomberg Law reports.

The Internal Revenue Service was on 3 November expected to turn over the documents to the Democratic-led committee, after the former president lost repeated lower court decisions to stop Congress from seeing the returns.

Trump defied political norms and refused to turn over his tax filings during his first run for the presidency in 2016, saying they were being audited. He maintained that stance throughout his presidency and afterwards.

Here’s more on the petition, from Bloomberg Law:

The case presents “important questions about the separation of powers that will affect every future President,” Trump’s lawyers argued. Allowing the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain a president’s tax returns would “render the office of the Presidency vulnerable to invasive information demands from political opponents in the legislative branch,” they added.

Trump’s lawyers also questioned the committee’s reasons for why it wanted his financial records, claiming the true purpose was to release Trump’s tax documents “to the public for the sake of exposure.” They argued that the judges who initially heard the case showed too much deference to the committee and ran afoul of a balancing test laid out earlier by the Supreme Court in a fight over Congress’ access to Trump’s financial records, Trump v Mazars.

Trump’s request to stop the committee from immediately getting the documents will go to Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts, who handles emergency matters out of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, could act on Trump’s request by himself or circulate it to the other justices for a vote.

Supreme court conservatives indicate opposition to affirmative action

The six-justice conservative majority on the supreme court has shown skepticism towards universities’ race-based admissions policies during oral arguments today, the Associated Press reports.

The court is hearing two cases concerning the University of North Carolina and Harvard University, in which the court’s six conservative justices could potentially ban the use of race as a factor in college admissions, a practice known as affirmative action.

Such a decision would be the latest example of the court overturning longstanding precedent, after five of its nine justices earlier this year struck down Roe v Wade and allowed states to ban abortion.

The AP reports that several members of the conservative bloc are known foes of the policy, and showed no indication of changing their minds about it during ongoing oral arguments in the two cases.

Here’s more from the AP’s story:

During arguments in the first of two cases, the court sounded split along ideological lines on the issue of affirmative action.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s second Black justice who has a long record of opposition to affirmative action programs, noted he didn’t go to racially diverse schools. “I’ve heard the word ‘diversity’ quite a few times and I don’t have a clue what it means,” the conservative justice said at one point. At another point he said: “Tell me what the educational benefits are?”

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, another conservative, pointed to one of the court’s previous affirmative action cases and said it anticipated an end to the use of affirmative action, saying it was “dangerous, and it has to have an end point.” When, she asked, is that end point?

Justice Samuel Alito likened affirmative action to a race in which a minority applicant gets to “start five yards closer to the finish line.” But liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Hispanic justice, rejected that comparison saying what universities are doing is looking at students as a whole.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s newest justice and its first Black female, also said that race was being used at the University of North Carolina as part of a broad review of applicants along 40 different factors.

“They’re looking at the full person with all of these characteristics,” she said.

Justice Elena Kagan called universities the “pipelines to leadership in our society” and suggested that without affirmative action minority enrollment will drop.

“I thought part of what it meant to be an American and to believe in American pluralism is that actually our institutions, you know, are reflective of who we are as a people in all our variety,” she said.

The Supreme Court has twice upheld race-conscious college admissions programs in the past 19 years, including just six years ago.

Republican and Democratic political leaders condemned Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi, husband to speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. But one of Donald Trump’s sons used it as an opportunity for insults, Martin Pengelly reports:

In the aftermath of the attack on Paul Pelosi, amid rising concern over rightwing figures stoking violence against political opponents, Donald Trump Jr posted online a crude meme featuring a hammer, the weapon used to attack the husband of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, on Friday.

“OMG,” the former president’s son wrote next to the picture, which also had the caption “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready”.

The internet backlash was swift but Trump Jr, a full-time provocateur and surrogate for his father, doubled down equally swiftly – posting another, this time clearly homophobic, meme which appears to reference a baseless conspiracy theory about the assault.

Ramon Antonio Vargas

Ohio congressman Brad Wenstrup is grieving after his niece died among more than 150 people killed in a crowd crush during Halloween celebrations in South Korea.

Wenstrup was the uncle of 20-year-old University of Kentucky nursing student Anne Marie Gieske, who was killed as a crowd of mostly young people flooded Itaewon’s narrow, sloping streets on Saturday. In a statement from his office, the Republican member of the US House of Representatives said he and his wife, Monica, were mourning their niece, whom he described as “a gift from God to our family”.

File photo of Republican US congressman Brad Wenstrup of Ohio.
File photo of Republican US congressman Brad Wenstrup of Ohio. Photograph: Erin Scott/Reuters

“We loved her so much,” Wenstrup said.

Gieske’s parents, Dan and Madonna Gieske, added: “We are completely devastated and heartbroken over the loss of Anne Marie. She was a bright light loved by all.

“Anne’s final gift to us was dying in the state of sanctifying grace. We know we will one day be reunited with her in God’s kingdom.”

Anne Marie Gieske was one of at least two young Americans to die in South Korea’s worst-ever crowd crush. The other was Steven Blesi, also 20 and a foreign exchange student from Georgia’s Kennesaw State University who was out celebrating having finished some academic exams.

Blesi’s father, Steve, told the New York Times that learning of his son’s death was like being stabbed “a hundred million times simultaneously”.

Wenstrup has represented Ohio in the US House since 2013. He is running for re-election against Democratic challenger Samantha Meadows during the 8 November midterms.

Voters won’t just elect lawmakers and governors in the 8 November elections. In Michigan, they’ll choose whether or not to allow a 90-year-old abortion ban to go into effect. Poppy Noor reports from Ann Arbor:

In the spring of this year, Julie Falbaum’s 20-year-old son walked into a frat party filled with about 50 of his peers, holding a stack of petitions. They were for a campaign to protect abortion.

“Who wants to be a dad?” he yelled. Like a park-goer throwing bread to pigeons, he chucked the forms around the room and watched as dozens of young men swarmed to sign them.

The campaign to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution was already under way here even before Roe fell, and it has become an embittered battle in Michigan – to keep a 90-year-old abortion ban off the books. Campaigners fear that ban would criminalise doctors and pregnant people and deny essential medical care, such as miscarriage medication, now that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists in the US.

The battle in Michigan has brought death threats and vandalism from pro-choice militants. On the anti-choice side, it has involved dirty tactics from the Republican party, which tried to block a petition brought by nearly 800,000 Michiganders over formatting errors, and has peddled a wide campaign of misinformation.

Julie Falbaum, a campaigner for the yes campaign on Proposal 3, which would establish reproductive rights, believes her son’s story – that he managed to collect so many signatures at a frat party without a campaign plan – is reflective of a broad coalition of support for “Prop 3”, which is supported by men and women, young people and older people, Republicans and Democrats.

“I see Michigan as pivotal to the future of democracy in the United States,” says Deirdre Roney, 60, who travelled from Los Angeles to campaign for the ballot in Detroit, where she grew up. Explaining that Detroit is the biggest voting bloc in Michigan, and that Michigan is one of the swingiest states in the country, she adds: “This is a blueprint. If this passes in Michigan, other states can use it.”

The day so far

Joe Biden will this afternoon mull levying a tax on energy companies’ profits in a speech planned for 4:30 pm. The last-minute address comes as Democrats look to reclaim credibility with voters on their handling of the economy ahead of next week’s midterm elections, which will decide the balance of power in Congress for the coming two years.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • Biden will reunite with Barack Obama in Philadelphia on Saturday to campaign for the state’s Democratic nominees for Senate and governor.

  • Democrats have a slight advantage in three crucial Senate races, and are in a dead heat for a fourth, according to a New York Times poll.

  • The supreme court is hearing arguments in two cases that its conservative majority could use to end affirmative action.

Biden to threaten windfall tax on oil companies as profits surge

In his speech this afternoon on oil companies’ record profits, Joe Biden will discuss whether to impose a windfall tax on energy firms, the Associated Press reports.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, Biden will raise the possibility of a tax aimed specifically at energy companies’ profits as a way to encourage them to lower prices at the pump.

The president is set to speak at 4:30 pm eastern time to “respond to reports over recent days of major oil companies making record-setting profits even as they refuse to help lower prices at the pump for the American people,” the White House announced earlier today. Rising gas prices have been a major drag on Biden and his Democratic allies’ public support ahead of the 8 November midterms, where polls indicate the state of the economy is voters’ top issue.

Wisconsin isn’t just the site of one of the Democratic party’s few chances to add to their majority in the Senate – it’s also pivotal to the future of American democracy, the state’s party chair says.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Ben Wikler lays out what’s at stake in the governorship and statehouse races in the perennial swing state:

In this moment, a tiny change in votes in Wisconsin could start a domino effect that could shape the future of American history. For worse, or better.

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587104420449460225″,”id”:”1587104420449460225″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”ad44eb99-5fa0-40a6-9d80-3389b70410fe”}}”>

In this moment, a tiny change in votes in Wisconsin could start a domino effect that could shape the future of American history. For worse, or better.

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

Wisconsin is a policy laboratory. If the GOP makes their control voter-proof here, they’ll take those policies nationwide. Read this important story for details. But recognize, too, that this week could open the door to dismantling their control. https://t.co/wjh4jG6iq6

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587104628927234049″,”id”:”1587104628927234049″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”d64af993-d633-485a-b200-831794ff9e24″}}”>

Wisconsin is a policy laboratory. If the GOP makes their control voter-proof here, they’ll take those policies nationwide. Read this important story for details. But recognize, too, that this week could open the door to dismantling their control. https://t.co/wjh4jG6iq6

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

First, the nightmare scenario: Mandela Barnes and Tony Evers could lose, and Ron Johnson and Tim Michels could win. Republicans could get a veto-proof supermajority in our state legislature. What would happen?

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587104689660764161″,”id”:”1587104689660764161″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”e2dd2c17-7bd1-4547-9114-3e690996e2f2″}}”>

First, the nightmare scenario: Mandela Barnes and Tony Evers could lose, and Ron Johnson and Tim Michels could win. Republicans could get a veto-proof supermajority in our state legislature. What would happen?

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

Wisconsin’s been the tipping point state in the last two presidential elections. Both of those elections came down to less than a percentage point. If democracy breaks even further in Wisconsin, the Electoral College math gets grim—fast. https://t.co/IahUX86yxl

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587104748473389061″,”id”:”1587104748473389061″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”a0c4f690-c55b-4ab0-9b77-8f68a9f9f202″}}”>

Wisconsin’s been the tipping point state in the last two presidential elections. Both of those elections came down to less than a percentage point. If democracy breaks even further in Wisconsin, the Electoral College math gets grim—fast. https://t.co/IahUX86yxl

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

Tim Michels, running for governor of Wisconsin, has explicitly said that his first priority will be to “fix” the election system by signing all of the voter suppression and election subversion laws that Governor Evers, our Democratic incumbent, has vetoed.https://t.co/a0vgjS18fi

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587104832736960513″,”id”:”1587104832736960513″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”38de87ed-2b80-48e3-9fd9-d589084dab05″}}”>

Tim Michels, running for governor of Wisconsin, has explicitly said that his first priority will be to “fix” the election system by signing all of the voter suppression and election subversion laws that Governor Evers, our Democratic incumbent, has vetoed.https://t.co/a0vgjS18fi

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

If Tim Michels rigs our elections, he will likely do it before the April 4, 2023 state Supreme Court election, which will determine the balance of power on Wisconsin’s highest court. The state court could uphold the rigging before the 2024 presidential. https://t.co/txmqPCowSn

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587105097078693888″,”id”:”1587105097078693888″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”ff6ad8b1-b419-4b3c-bde5-42119ae4e5e7″}}”>

If Tim Michels rigs our elections, he will likely do it before the April 4, 2023 state Supreme Court election, which will determine the balance of power on Wisconsin’s highest court. The state court could uphold the rigging before the 2024 presidential. https://t.co/txmqPCowSn

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

Gov Evers, on the other hand, supports fair elections and has been a brick wall to save our democracy—refusing to concede to Republican attacks and allowing the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission to do its job.

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587105168444768258″,”id”:”1587105168444768258″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”35ae0649-3d4d-478b-8cb7-ca27cda1f18e”}}”>

Gov Evers, on the other hand, supports fair elections and has been a brick wall to save our democracy—refusing to concede to Republican attacks and allowing the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission to do its job.

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

If Tim Michels can scrap the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission and install radical Republicans—as he has promised—every rule governing how elections function could be shaped to advance the GOP’s partisan agenda. https://t.co/9DcK3c3CUa

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587105296580763649″,”id”:”1587105296580763649″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”3c8a323f-317f-4187-abfc-01c14572eca0″}}”>

If Tim Michels can scrap the bipartisan Wisconsin Election Commission and install radical Republicans—as he has promised—every rule governing how elections function could be shaped to advance the GOP’s partisan agenda. https://t.co/9DcK3c3CUa

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

But if that’s not enough to give Trump a victory, and Trump still loses 2024, Michels could refuse to certify the election.

In fact, when asked about it directly, he *only* committed to certifying the election *if* he can fix the election system first. pic.twitter.com/3mo5xWkYWj

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587105492022730760″,”id”:”1587105492022730760″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”3f0215dd-ee67-4787-8892-6baa558606c0″}}”>

But if that’s not enough to give Trump a victory, and Trump still loses 2024, Michels could refuse to certify the election.

In fact, when asked about it directly, he *only* committed to certifying the election *if* he can fix the election system first. pic.twitter.com/3mo5xWkYWj

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

To win the electoral college majority in 2024, we’ll need Wisconsin.

And if we lose the governor’s race now, the path to having a free, fair, and secure presidential election becomes stunningly bleak.

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/benwikler/status/1587105571865612292″,”id”:”1587105571865612292″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”f1fd3b68-f0d8-474a-a947-a7565c5f013e”}}”>

To win the electoral college majority in 2024, we’ll need Wisconsin.

And if we lose the governor’s race now, the path to having a free, fair, and secure presidential election becomes stunningly bleak.

— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 31, 2022

Bernie Sanders is heading to Wisconsin to drum up support for Democratic candidates, the Associated Press reports:

.@BernieSanders announces four stops in Wisconsin this week to support Democratic candidates and drive turnout

Sanders plans to be in Eau Claire, La Crosse and Madison on Friday and in Oshkosh on Saturday

His visit comes after former President @BarackObama was in Milwaukee

— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) October 31, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/sbauerAP/status/1587090612930609156″,”id”:”1587090612930609156″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”f430c3bf-aeac-454d-8230-71f4b5d42ac5″}}”>

.@BernieSanders announces four stops in Wisconsin this week to support Democratic candidates and drive turnout

Sanders plans to be in Eau Claire, La Crosse and Madison on Friday and in Oshkosh on Saturday

His visit comes after former President @BarackObama was in Milwaukee

— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) October 31, 2022

The state is home to one of Democrats’ other Senate pickup opportunities this year, with lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes trying to unseat incumbent Republican Ron Johnson. Polls have generally shown Johnson with the advantage here.

It’s also home to a very tight governors race, where Democratic incumbent Tony Evers is up for a second term against GOP challenger Tim Michels.

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