Protesters gathered Thursday in cities from New York to California in a warning to the White House not to derail Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Progressive groups hastily organized the marches after President Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday and named Matt Whitaker as his acting replacement. Whitaker will oversee the Mueller investigation.
Whitaker has made it known that he is hostile to the probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians and the president obstructed justice.
“Whitaker must recuse and Congress must act to protect the Mueller investigation,” said an organizer of the march outside the White House.
Other speakers said Trump thought American voices would be silent after the midterm election and accused the president of attacking the rule of law.
The crowd in New York City’s Times Square chanted “Hands off Mueller” and waved various anti-Trump signs.
A man wearing nothing but red, white and blue underpants strummed a guitar and sang pro-Trump songs. He was quickly shouted down and had anti-Trump signs held in front of his face.
The organizers of Thursday’s events warned of even more massive street protests if Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing the Mueller investigation after Sessions recused himself.
Whitaker has given no signs he plans to step back from the probe, saying he is “committed to leading a fair department with the highest ethical standards, that upholds the rule of law, and seeks justice for all Americans.”
But before joining the Justice Department as Sessions’ chief of staff, Whitaker appeared on CNN where he said the attorney general has the power to cut Mueller’s budget and bring the investigation to a halt.
He has also written that he believes the Mueller probe has gone too far and that Trump’s finances should be off limits to the special counsel.