Representative Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California) on Sunday claimed without evidence that some pro-Palestinian activists are “connected” to Russia, angering a prominent Muslim group in the US. (Watch the video below.)
In an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, the former House speaker said demonstrators calling for a ceasefire in Gaza hews to “Mr Putin’s message.”
“Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine,” Pelosi said. “It’s about Putin’s message. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia.”
Asked by host Dana Bash whether she thought some of the activists were “Russian plants,” Pelosi replied: “Seeds or plants. I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.”
Pelosi may be the first US politician to publicly theorise that Russia may be backing the protests in order to create a rift among Democrats, The New York Times wrote.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations slammed Pelosi’s remarks as “delusional.”
“Instead of baselessly smearing those Americans as Russian collaborators, former House Speaker Pelosi and other political leaders should respect the will of the American people by calling for an end to the Netanyahu government’s genocidal war on the people of Gaza,” executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement to HuffPost.
Protests demanding a cease-fire amid Israel’s prolonged counteroffensive in response to the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel have erupted around the country, also interrupting speeches by President Joe Biden and Pelosi.
In a statement to The New York Times that noted Pelosi’s desire to stop “the suffering in Gaza,” a Pelosi spokesperson said: “Speaker Pelosi has always supported and defended the right of all Americans to make their views known through peaceful protest.
“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.”