House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced Twitter’s new owner, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, after he shared a right-wing conspiracy theory about her husband in the days after he was assaulted with a hammer in their home.
She made the comments during a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper on Monday.
"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," Ms Pelosi said. "It’s truamatising to those affected by it. They don’t care about that obviously. It’s destructive to the unity we want to have in our country."
Mr Musk shared a dubious article from a site claiming to be a news outlet in a tweet shortly after he took control of Twitter. The article’s headline read “The Awful Truth: Paul Pelosi Was Drunk Again, And In a Dispute With a Male Prostitute Early Friday Morning.”
The tweet was in response to Hillary Clinton’s tweet condemning the attack and conspiracy theories that circulated in its wake.
"There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye," Mr Musk replied, along with a link to the article. He deleted the tweet after a flood of critical responses and a federal affidavit set the record straight on the detail that kicked off the conspiracy theories.
KTVU, a local, Fox-affiliated broadcaster in Oakland, California, erroneously reported that the attacker was in his underwear during the attack. The affidavit showed that was not the case, but the theory that Mr Pelosi had been involved in a drunken fight with a male prostitute had already begun to spread by that point.
The suspect in the attack has pleaded not guilty to charges that include kidnapping and attempted murder. Mr Pelosi, though injured by a hammer attack, is expected to make a full recovery.
Some Republicans — including former President Donald Trump — made light of the attack.
"It is not impossible to protect our kids at school. [Democrats] act like it is. Nancy Pelosi, well, she’s got protection when she’s in DC — apparently, her house doesn’t have a lot of protection," Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake said, drawing laughter from a crowd of supporters.
In the days after the attack, Mr Trump called Ms Pelosi an "animal" and, during a rally, asked "how is she doing lately?"
"Crazy Nancy Pelosi, by the way, how is she doing lately?" he said, drawing jeers from the crowd. "How’s she doing?"
He previously called the attack a "terrible thing" and a "sad situation," according to the Washington Examiner, but later waded into the same conspiratorial waters as Mr Musk.
"It’s weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks," Mr Trump told conservative radio host Chris Stigall. "You know, probably, you and I are better off not talking about it. The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out and, you know, so, it wasn’t a break-in, it was a break out."
Mr Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, also jumped into the fray, posting a photo of himself wearing underwear and wielding a hammer.
"Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready," the former president’ son posted on Twitter.
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