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Paul Pelosi was attacked in his home on Oct. 28 by a man authorities said was looking for his wife, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi and the suspect, David DePape, did not know each other, authorities said.
Photos of Pelosi at the Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 4 do not show any mpox scars on his chin.
Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, made his first public appearance since being attacked by a hammer-wielding man on Oct. 28.
The Pelosis attended the 45th Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 4, where celebrities such as actor George Clooney, singer Gladys Knight and the rock band U2 were feted for their achievements in the arts.
His first public appearance sparked another. This one appears to play off the baseless conspiracy that he and his attacker had a sexual relationship.
A caption on a Dec. 5 Instagram post read, "Paul Pelosi is seen in public for the first time, since he was ‘attacked’ in his home, at the Kennedy Center Honors. #PelosiPox." Next to it is a photo of Pelosi at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. A close-up image inset in the photo supposedly shows Pelosi’s chin peppered with mpox lesions.
The Instagram 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.)
Monkeypox was renamed mpox in November after the World Health Organization deemed the name racist and stigmatizing. The virus, which is similar but less deadly than smallpox, is endemic to Africa, but cases had spread to Europe and the U.S. this past summer.
The outbreak prompted Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to issue a public health emergency in August; the department expects it to end Jan. 31, given the low case count.
Although anyone can get the virus, which is spread by close contact with an infected person, the majority of cases in the 2022 outbreak were among men who have sex with men, the Centers for Disease Control said.
According to federal authorities, David DePape, the man charged in the attack, and Pelosi did not know each other. In a November grand jury indictment, authorities said Pelosi called 911 and said there was "an unknown man" in his home.
DePape admitted in an interview with police to breaking into the home with a hammer. He described waking Pelosi up and asking about Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts, the indictment read.
DePape was charged with one count of assault on an immediate family member of a U.S. official with the intent to retaliate against the official and one count of attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official. DePape also faces several state charges in the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Pelosi suffered a fractured skull that required surgery in the attack, and serious injuries to his hands and right arm. Photos of him at the Kennedy Center Honors do not show any scars or lesions on his face. He was wearing a glove on one hand and a black hat.
An Instagram post suggested Paul Pelosi had not been seen in public for months because he had mpox, not because he was recovering from being attacked in his home. The post appears to play off baseless claims that Pelosi had a sexual relationship with his attacker.
News photos from the Kennedy Center Honors do not show any scars on Pelosi’s chin. There’s no evidence Pelosi and his attacker knew each other, federal authorities have said. There’s also no evidence Pelosi had mpox. We rate this claim Pants on Fire!
Instagram post, Dec. 5, 2022
PolitiFact, "Misinformation fuels false narratives about attack on Paul Pelosi," Oct. 31, 2022
The Washington Post, "Paul Pelosi attends Kennedy Center Honors in first public appearance since attack," Dec. 5, 2022
Getty Images, photo of Paul Pelosi, Dec. 4, 2022
U.S. Department of Justice, "Man indicted in connection with attempted kidnapping and assault at Pelosi residence," Nov. 9, 2022
U.S. Department of Justice, grand jury indictment of David DePape, Nov. 9, 2022
Reuters, "Accused Paul Pelosi attacker pleads not guilty to U.S. charges," Nov. 15, 2022
Department of Health and Human Services, "Biden-Harris Administration Bolsters Monkeypox Response; HHS Secretary Becerra Declares Public Health Emergency," Aug. 4, 2022
Department of Health and Human Services, "Statement From HHS Secretary Becerra on mpox," Dec. 2, 2022
Statement from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, "Pelosi Spokesperson Statement on Paul Pelosi’s Successful Surgery Following Violent Assault," Oct. 28, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Mpox: 2022 Outbreak Cases and Data," accessed Dec. 8, 2022
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