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    After Pelosi attack, House chair wants answers from police

    WASHINGTON (AP) – A top ally of United States (US) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is demanding fresh answers from the United States Capitol Police (USCP) about security failures that led to a brutal attack on Pelosi’s husband last week, questioning the embattled agency about whether it can keep lawmakers and their families safe.

    House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-California, sent a four-page letter to Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger on Wednesday, saying the attack on Paul Pelosi raises “significant questions about security protections for Members of Congress”.

    The man who beat Paul Pelosi with a hammer was looking for Nancy Pelosi and later told police that he wanted to hold her hostage and break her kneecaps to make a political point, authorities said.

    The searing letter lays out a series of questions for Manger and orders the agency to lay out its plans for protecting lawmakers and their families, including how they are interacting with other law enforcement agencies, how officers are trained for such situations and whether there are special plans in place to protect lawmakers in the presidential line of succession, as Pelosi is.

    The letter from Lofgren, whose panel oversees the USCP comes as the beleaguered agency is still trying to rebuild after the January 6 Capitol insurrection, when hundreds of former president Donald Trump’s supporters overwhelmed officers and more than 100 were injured.

    Threats to lawmakers have skyrocketed in recent years – almost 10,000 threats were investigated last year – and the agency has struggled to protect lawmakers, their families and the Capitol campus with limited resources. The Capitol Police issued a statement on Wednesday saying they will “fast track” the work they had already been doing to protect members outside of Washington.

    US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is escorted to a vehicle outside of her and husband Paul Pelosi’s home in San Francisco. PHOTO: AP

    “Our brave men and women are working around the clock to meet this urgent mission during this divisive time,” the USCP statement said.

    “In the meantime, a significant change that will have an immediate impact will be for people across our country to lower the temperature on political rhetoric before it’s too late.”

    The USCP said it has access to roughly 1,800 cameras, including one on Pelosi’s house that was not being monitored during the attack on Paul Pelosi because the speaker was not there. The USCP video is expected to show an extended struggle by the intruder, David DePape, to break into the Pelosi house as he first worked to break a window in the rear of the home and moved around to break glass in doors on the side of the house, according to a person briefed on the situation who requested anonymity to discuss it.

    The San Francisco Police Department often posted a patrol car at the Pelosi house, particularly after the January 6, 2021, attack at the Capitol, but there was no police car present at the home during the time of the attack, the person said.

    Among many other questions in the letter, Lofgren asked if the agency had any special agreements with San Francisco police to have security stationed outside of Pelosi’s house.

    In a speech on Wednesday night near the Capitol, US President Biden bemoaned “the dangerous rise of political violence and voter intimidation over the past two years”.

    “There’s an alarming rise in the number of people in this country condoning political violence or simply remaining silent,” Biden added. “In our bones we know democracy is at risk, but we also know this: It’s in our power to preserve our democracy.”

    DePape’s state case will continue today, though the defendant will not appear in the courtroom.

    His public defender entered a not guilty plea on his behalf on Tuesday and vowed to pursue a “vigorous legal defence”.

    Paul Pelosi remained in the Intensive Care Unit in a San Francisco hospital, and was receiving regular visits from Nancy Pelosi and other family members.

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