As protesters continue to disrupt Democratic campaign events with calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, Rep. Nancy Pelosi now says the Biden administration should use the FBI to investigate the activists’ “financing,” which she baselessly suggested might be coming from the Russian government.
The former speaker of the House made her chilling comments Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union after host Dana Bash asked about the pro-ceasefire demonstrations and the possibility that “young people, Arab Americans, progressives” might refuse to vote for Joe Biden because of his support for Israel.
Responding to Bash, Pelosi referenced an anti-Israel protester’s disruption of a speech she gave at a recent Democratic event in Seattle. The former speaker went on to express support for mitigating the suffering experienced by women and children in Gaza.
Then, without offering any evidence, Pelosi sought to connect the protests to Vladimir Putin. “For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin’s message,” she declared. “Make no mistake: This is directly connected to what he would like to see.” Pelosi allowed that “some of these protesters are spontaneous, and organic, and sincere.” But she also said that “some, I think, are connected to Russia—and I say that having looked at this for a long time.”
“You think some of these protests are Russian plants?” Bash asked.
Again, Pelosi offered no evidence for her allegations, but she nonetheless called on federal law enforcement to get involved.
“I don’t think they’re plants,” she said. “I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.”
Pelosi quickly added that even if the protests are “all spontaneous and sincere,” young voters still care deeply about other core Democratic Party issues, including abortion rights, climate change, and—somewhat ironically given her call for the FBI to investigate political protesters—”our democracy.”
“So, they’re going to have to make a decision,” she said, “staying home to enable or to…organize, and get out there and get the job [done]” by reelecting Biden.
The comments—staggering, coming from one of the most prominent figures in US politics—were slammed by some as irresponsible and anti-democratic. They also seem to offer further evidence of the Democratic establishment’s disconnect with many of the party’s voters and the rising support for a ceasefire.
The timing of Pelosi’s remarks could prove awkward, to say the least, as the Biden administration reportedly moves closer to securing a new agreement that would stop the fighting in Gaza for an extended period in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages.
In a subsequent statement, a Pelosi spokesperson said that the former House speaker supports Americans’ right to engage in peaceful protest but reiterated her call for “further investigation.”
Bash: You think some of these protests are Russian plants?
Pelosi: Some financing should be investigated and I want to ask the FBI to investigate that. pic.twitter.com/j2apqYhLKm
— Eva McKend (@evamckend) January 28, 2024