Anti-war group crashes event with Democratic Rep. Adam Smith

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.)
Greg Nash
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) speaks with reporters to discuss the National Defense Authorization bill on Friday, September 30, 2022 as the House take procedural votes regarding the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government until Dec. 16.

Anti-war group Code Pink crashed a DC event on Wednesday featuring Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wa.), pressing the former Armed Services Committee chairman on surging defense spending and the need to diplomacy to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.

CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin and organizer Olivia DiNucci walk on stage and interrupt the Brookings Institute conversation with Smith, with DiNucci holding up a sign saying “Diplomacy: Not War.”

“If we keep pouring billions and billions of dollars into this war, we’re taking us to the brink of nuclear war,” says Benjamin, asking the crowd if they’d like to see negotiations rather than nuclear war.

Smith tries to respond as Benjamin keeps talking, accusing Smith of “pillorying” a group of progressive Democrats who released and retracted a letter in October calling on the Biden administration to increase its diplomatic efforts around the Ukraine war.

“I didn’t pillory them at all,” Smith said as Benjamin continues.

“The Democrats have to get back on board of calling for negotiations and not leave that to the extreme right of the Republican Party, like Marjorie Taylor Greene,” she said. “They shouldn’t be the ones with the rational voice in all of this calling for negotiations.”

As the pair were ushered out of the room, DiNucci said “Security is addressing the climate crisis, getting people housed and not pouring $880 billion dollars into war.” 

Code Pink helped lobbied for the progressive letter, which caused a firestorm on Capitol Hill and was withdrawn the next day.

The protest comes after Congress last month passed a $1.7 trillion government funding package that includes $45 billion in military assistance for Ukraine.

The Biden administration has said that it will support Ukraine fight against Russia for as long as it takes, and that it will allow Kyiv to decide when the time is right for negotiations with Moscow.

After the protesters left the room, Smith said Congress does want a peaceful resolution to the conflict, but said that wasn’t happening because of Russia’s ongoing assault.

“And I think presenting arguments like that simply adds fuel to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s fire,” Smith said. “And gives Russia you know…the blank check to go ahead and continue to commit the war crimes they’re committing in Ukraine.” 

“So what we are doing in defending and supporting the Ukrainian people is the best thing we can do to get to a peaceful outcome…the peaceful outcome that they claim they want,” he added of Code Pink.

Tags Adam Smith Adam Smith Brookings Institute Code Pink House Armed Services Committee Medea Benjamin Russia-Ukraine conflict Russo-Ukrainian War Washington D.C.

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