A man accused of a hammer attack on ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband has testified how he hatched a plan to end US corruption after becoming absorbed in conspiracy theories.
David DePape, 43, has pleaded not guilty to two charges including attempted kidnap of a federal official.
He cried as he testified how he hatched a bizarre plot that included wearing a unicorn costume while interrogating Ms Pelosi and posting the video online.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.
Closing arguments in the trial are expected on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, in sometimes tearful testimony, Mr DePape told the court he used to have left-wing political beliefs before a political transformation that started when he was living in a garage without a toilet or shower, playing video games for hours at a time.
Giving evidence for more than an hour, he said that in the course of looking up information about video games he became interested in Gamergate, an anti-feminist campaign that targeted prominent women in the gaming world and became a huge online trend starting in 2014.
He began listening to right-wing podcasters and watching political YouTube videos.
“At that time, I was biased against Trump,” Mr DePape said, “but there’s, like, truth there. So if there’s truth out there that I don’t know, I want to know it.”
He said he formulated a “grand plan” that involved luring “targets” to the Pelosi home.
Inflatable unicorn costume
The names on his list included University of Michigan academic Gayle Rubin, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Tom Hanks, congressman Adam Schiff, former Vice-President Mike Pence, former Attorney General Bill Barr, Senator Bernie Sanders and liberal mega-donor George Soros.
Ultimately, Mr DePape said, he wanted to confront President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, and after he got his targets to admit to corruption, he planned to ask the president to pardon everyone he considered a “criminal”.
“It’s just easier giving them a pardon so we can move forward as a country,” he said, crying on the stand.
Mr DePape said he went to the Pelosi home in the early hours of 28 October last year, hoping to talk to Mrs Pelosi about what he thought were false theories of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
He said he planned to wear an inflatable unicorn costume and upload his interrogation of her online. He was arrested with zip ties and duct tape in his possession.
When asked why he hit Mr Pelosi, he responded: “I reacted because my plan was basically ruined.”
“He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt,” he said.
Mr Pelosi, 83, testified on Monday of his alarm upon waking up to find Mr DePape “standing in the doorway”.
Mr Pelosi spent six days in hospital with a fractured skull and injuries to his arm and hand.
Defence lawyers are not denying that Mr DePape struck Mr Pelosi, but they are arguing he was motivated by his belief in conspiracy theories rather than Mrs Pelosi’s status as Speaker of the House.
Because the charges involve assault on a federal official, prosecutors must prove that Mr DePape’s actions were motivated by Mrs Pelosi’s elected position.