Nancy Pelosi suggested that Russia may be funding pro-Palestinian protesters who have been interrupting Democratic campaign events, saying that some calling for a ceasefire are promoting “Putin’s message.”
Protesters disrupted Pelosi’s appearance in Seattle on Thursday to call for an end to Israel’s assault on Palestine. Vocal demonstrators have also been appearing regularly at President Joe Biden’s events. Pelosi said that she would like the FBI to investigate whether Russia is financing these groups.
“I’ve been the recipient of their, shall we say, exuberance in this regard as recently as in Seattle on Thursday. Unfortunately, they want to disrupt our very exciting Democratic meeting there,” Pelosi told CNN’s Dana Bash on State of the Union. “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. And what we have to do is try to stop the suffering in Gaza. This is women and children, people who don’t have a place to go. So let’s address that.”
Pelosi: "For them to call for a ceasefire is Mr Putin's message. Make no mistake. This is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine … I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere, some I think are connected to Russia" pic.twitter.com/n1hDX1e8cB
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 28, 2024
Pelosi continued, “But for them to call for a ceasefire 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. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia.”
Protesters confronted Pelosi at the Seattle Westin on Thursday, calling for a ceasefire and to “lift the siege on Gaza now.” They interrupted Pelosi’s speech to yell, “Stop the genocide.” Pro-Palestine activists have shouted during Biden’s campaign events as well. At an event focused on abortion rights, protesters interrupted Biden’s speech at least a dozen times, demanding a ceasefire, and they were removed from the venue. They also appeared at his speech in Charleston’s Mother Emanuel AME Church and at a United Auto Workers event last week.
“They feel deeply,” Biden said of the protesters at the abortion rights event.
Asked whether some of these protests are Russian plants, Pelosi replied, “seeds or plants,” adding: “I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.”
In a comment to Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for Pelosi said, “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. 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 also noted a post on X from Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and professor at Columbia University, who wrote in response to Pelosi’s comments on CNN, “Putin benefits from continued war in Gaza and expanded chaos in the Middle East.”
Russia and Putin have supported a ceasefire and have used Israel’s aggression in Gaza to criticize the United States for its role in the conflict. Russia has also attempted to interfere in the last two U.S. presidential elections.
Many other nations have called for a ceasefire, as have some appointees in the Biden administration. The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to take action to prevent acts of genocide. Last month, 153 countries in the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The U.S. and Israel voted against the resolution, and 23 nations abstained. Biden also warned Israel in December that it was losing international support due to its “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza. Since the start of the war, more than 25,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, its Health Ministry said last week. Conditions in Gaza are severely deteriorated as displaced Palestinians try to survive in starvation conditions. More than half a million are facing “catastrophic hunger and starvation,” according to a report from a U.N. affiliated group.
Pelosi went on to say that the protesters who are “sincere” should consider the other issues that are at stake in this election. “Apart from that, let’s just say it’s all spontaneous and sincere… Young people care about the right to choose. They care about LGBTQ issues. They care about preserving the planet. They care about gun violence prevention, that’s what they tell us,” she said. “They care about our democracy and the freedoms that are contained in some of what I said. So they’re gonna have to make a decision. Staying home to enable or… organize and get out there and get the job [done].”
This post has been updated to include a comment from a Pelosi spokesperson.
More from Rolling Stone
Best of Rolling Stone