Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Sunday said she hopes to ask the FBI to investigate protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war and suggested that some of the antiwar demonstrations are linked to Russia.
During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the former House speaker shared her belief that some of the protesters are “connected” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“For them to call for a cease-fire is Mr. Putin’s message, Mr. Putin’s message. Make no mistake. This is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine. It’s about Putin’s message,” Pelosi said.
“I think some of these — some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia, and I say that having looked at this for a long time now,” she continued.
Pressed on whether she thinks some of the protesters are Russian plants, Pelosi said she would like to have the FBI look into the matter.
“I didn’t say they’re plants. I think some financing should be investigated,” she said. “And I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.”
Asked about how concerned she is that voters such as young people, Arab Americans and progressives might stay home instead of voting for President Joe Biden in the general election, given the growing number of protests at his campaign events, Pelosi said she has been a “recipient” of what she described as the “exuberances” of protesters.
“They’re in front of my house all the time. So I have a feeling for what feelings they have, but we have to think about what we’re doing,” she said. “And what we have to do is try to stop the suffering and gossip. This is women and children. People don’t have a place to go, so let’s address that.”
Asked to comment on Pelosi’s remarks, a spokesperson for the California Democrat said she is supportive of peaceful protests and is concerned about foreign adversaries meddling in the 2024 presidential election.
“As Speaker Pelosi said on CNN, we have to focus on stopping the suffering in Gaza, and she will continue demanding that all hostages be freed now,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Speaker Pelosi has always supported and defended the right of all Americans to make their views known through peaceful protest.”
“Informed by three decades on the House Intelligence Committee, Speaker Pelosi is acutely aware of how foreign adversaries meddle in American politics to sow division and impact our elections, and she wants to see further investigation ahead of the 2024 election,” the spokesperson added.
Pelosi’s comments underscored a growing divide within the Democratic Party. Her statement drew a contrast with remarks given nearly simultaneously by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a member of the progressive “Squad” of House members. During a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Ocasio-Cortez said she thinks that ongoing protests at Biden campaign events show that “young people are appalled at the violence and the indiscriminate loss of life.”
Protests during Biden’s campaign events have increased amid the president’s outspoken support for Israel. In response to the mounting protests, Biden’s advisers and Democratic Party leaders have adopted a new, ramped-up approach to dealing with the protests that indicate fractures within his own party over his handling of the war.
At the same time, the Biden administration is discussing using weaponry sales to Israel as leverage in efforts to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to curtail its military assault in the Gaza Strip, NBC News reported on Sunday.