Hours after Jeff Sessions was forced out as U.S. attorney general, activists are seeking to protect the special counsel investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. On Thursday, they will protest nationally, including in Las Vegas.
“A red line was crossed,” according to progressive political group MoveOn.org, one of the national organizers. That’s because with Sessions out of the Cabinet, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will take over the case.
The local protest is planned for 5 p.m. in front of the Lloyd D. George federal courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. South, according to organizers. Moveon.org is one of about 50 progressive social groups that have spent months preparing to respond to any Trump move to stop the Mueller investigation.
Against President Donald Trump’s wishes, Sessions had recused himself from overseeing cases arising from the 2016 election, citing his role as an active Trump supporter, tasking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee it.
Rosenstein then appointed Robert Mueller, the special counsel. That investigation, activists say, is in danger of collapsing because Whitaker — who has not recused himself of any cases — will take over for Rosenstein and he has criticized Mueller in the past.
In an op-ed for CNN, Whitaker wrote: "Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing."
Democrats, including House leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Chuck Schumer, immediately called for Whitaker to recuse himself from the investigation, citing his public comments. Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, said he wants "answers immediately" and tweeted that "we will hold people accountable."
“Donald Trump just crossed a red line, violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up,” according to MoveOn.org.
“Trump putting himself above the law is a threat to our democracy, and we’ve got to get Congress to stop him. We're mobilizing immediately to demand accountability, because Trump is not above the law,” the group said.
No evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russia government has been publicly identified. The president insists that the probe is a “witch hunt.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.