Backlash after pelosi says pro-gaza ceasfire protests could be run by Putin

lev radin/ShutterStock Bartolomiej Pietrzyk/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘Do the Democrats want to win?’: Nancy Pelosi wants the FBI to investigate calls for ceasefire in Gaza—which are coming from her own party

She intimated that Russia may be behind it.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Jan 29, 2024

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is facing backlash online after calling on the FBI to investigate pro-Gaza ceasefire protesters for potential ties to Russia.

In remarks to CNN on Sunday, the former House speaker suggested that some in support of a ceasefire may be unknowingly connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“For them to call for a cease-fire is Mr. Putin’s message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see,” she said. “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. And I say that having looked at this for a long time now, as you know.”

When asked to clarify her remarks, Pelosi stated that she did not believe Russian operatives had infiltrated the protests. Instead, Pelosi argued, the movement itself may be receiving funding from the Kremlin.

“I think some financing should be investigated,” she added. “And I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.”

Pelosi’s comments quickly stirred anger among ceasefire supporters, many of whom accused the politician of acting in an authoritarian manner.

“Claiming protestors are in the pay of a hostile power is normally what dictatorships do when they know they’ve lost all moral authority,” one user wrote.

Others argued that Pelosi’s demand was similar to those made during the 1960s when President Richard Nixon used law enforcement to surveil Americans opposed to the Vietnam War.

“While everyone is mocking the pudding brain Putin conspiracy theory here, worth adding that Pelosi is making a serious & dangerous policy suggestion: that FBI investigate antiwar groups,” another said. “This echoes LBJ/Nixon abuse of law enforcement.”

In response to the outcry, a spokesperson for Pelosi said that the former House speaker “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 said.

Yet the explanation, seen by many as an attempt to walk back Pelosi’s remarks, did little to quell the backlash.

“Pelosi supports Free Speech so much she’s going to have the FBI investigate the reasons you are exercising your Free Speech,” another user said.

The matter was especially salient given Pelosi’s position in Democratic leadership and the majority of ceasefire pushes coming from the left, leading people online to bemoan that the party had utterly abandoned them.

“Do the democrats want to win?” asked one.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group for Muslims, similarly criticized Pelosi in a scathing statement on her CNN interview.

“We are deeply disturbed by Former House Speaker Pelosi’s comments,” said Nihad Awad, CAIR’s national executive director. “Rep. Pelosi’s claim that some of the Americans protesting for a Gaza ceasefire are working with Vladimir Putin sounds delusional and her call for the FBI to investigate those protesters without any evidence is downright authoritarian.”

Pelosi’s controversial take comes as the death toll in Palestine, according to health officials in Gaza, tops more than 26,000 people. The Israeli bombardment, in response to the Oct. 7 attack which saw Hamas militants kill 1,200 people in Israel, remains ongoing as talks for a ceasefire have continued.

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*First Published: Jan 29, 2024, 10:00 am CST