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Pelosi wants the FBI to investigate protests advocating for a Gaza cease-fire.

On Sunday, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, called for an FBI investigation into protesters advocating for a cease-fire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, suggesting, without evidence, that some of the demonstrations may be influenced or financed by Russia. Pelosi specifically requested the FBI to look into the finances behind the nationwide protests.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States, criticized Pelosi’s comments, calling them a “smear” and “authoritarian,” and likening them to FBI investigations of antiwar activists during the Vietnam War era.

During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi stated, “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.” She emphasized the need for an investigation into the financing of the protests, describing calls for a cease-fire as “Mr. Putin’s message,” in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pelosi’s call for a federal investigation comes as thousands of Americans demonstrate weekly, calling for an end to Israel’s military operations in Gaza. These operations have resulted in significant casualties among Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. The protests reflect growing public sentiment against Israel’s actions, with many Americans advocating for a cease-fire.

The comments from Pelosi drew sharp criticism from Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who labeled Pelosi’s claims as “delusional” and “authoritarian.” Awad emphasized the need for political leaders to respect the will of the American people and called for an end to what he described as Israel’s “genocidal war” against the people of Gaza.

Pelosi’s spokesperson attempted to clarify her remarks after the CNN interview but provided no additional evidence to support her claims. Pelosi’s concerns about foreign influence in American politics were highlighted, although she did not offer concrete evidence of Russian involvement in the protests.

Meanwhile, progressive Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York explained why she believes many Americans are opposed to Israel’s actions in Gaza during an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” Ocasio-Cortez cited widespread dismay over the violence and loss of life in Gaza, expressing solidarity with Palestinians affected by the conflict.

As the debate over Israel’s military operations continues, Pelosi downplayed concerns about divisions within the Democratic coalition, emphasizing the importance of addressing key issues that resonate with young voters, such as reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental conservation, and gun violence prevention.

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