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US activists stage nationwide protests to protect Mueller probe

US activists stage nationwide protests to protect Mueller probe

US activists stage nationwide protests to protect Mueller probe
November 10
01:56 2018

Tens of thousands of Americans have staged nationwide rallies in support of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his probe into Russia’s alleged meddling that helped then-Republican candidate Donald Trump win in the 2016 presidential election.

The rallies – under the banner “Nobody is Above the Law” and led by the activist group MoveOn – were held across the United States on Thursday to advocate for the protection of Mueller and his Russia investigation following Trump’s firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Chanting the slogan “Hands off Mueller,” the protesters held signs that read “Truth Must Triumph,” and “Repeal, Replace Trump.”

People gather in front of City Hall to take part in a protest to protect the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in Los Angeles, California, US, November 8, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’ chief of staff, as acting attorney general after Sessions had recused himself from overseeing the probe into an alleged collusion between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Whitaker, whose appointment as the top law enforcement chief in the US came without approval from the Senate, has called for the Russia investigation to be scaled down.

“Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel's Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. Our hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice,” MoveOn said on its website, calling for at least one rally to be held in each US state.

The activist group said the naming of Whitaker is a “deliberate attempt to obstruct the special counsel's investigation.”

Fears have grown among US citizens that the probe into purported Moscow-Washington ties in 2016 presidential election may be ended due to Sessions’ dismissal.

In this file photo taken on April 25, 2018 US Attorney General Jeff Sessions waits for a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (By AFP)

Attorneys general in 18 states sent a request to Whitaker on Thursday, demanding that he recuse himself from the investigation due to his previous comments.

“Because a reasonable person could question you impartiality in the matter, your recusal is necessary to maintain public trust in the integrity of the investigation and to protect the essential and longstanding independence of the department you have chosen to lead,” the letter read.

The firing of Sessions came a day after the US midterm elections, which resulted in Democrats having a 222-196 lead in the lower house of Congress and Republicans' majority in the Senate.

Whitaker, a sharp critic of Mueller's probe in the past, prompted multiple Democratic lawmakers to raise concerns that he could undermine the Russia investigation in his new role.

“Given his record of threats to undermine & weaken the Russia investigation, Matthew Whitaker should recuse himself from any involvement in Mueller’s investigation,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday.

“Congress must take immediate action to protect the rule of law and integrity of the investigation,” she added.

Mueller has already indicted several Trump associates and more than a dozen Russians accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

US intelligence agencies claim Russia-linked hackers provided WikiLeaks with damaging information — in the form of thousands of hacked emails — about former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to skew the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump.

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with the Russians and has labeled Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has also denied the allegations.

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