Tue, 21 Jan 2020

Progressive groups to protest over Russia probe hinderance

By Sheetal Sukhija, UAE News.Net
09 Nov 2018, 07 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Hundreds of protests are being planned across the country after the U.S. President Donald Trump decided to force his attorney general Jeff Sessions out of his position - indirectly threatening the Justice Department-led Russia collusion probe. 

A day after the Republicans lost their bid to secure a majority in the House, Trump acted on his repeated threats to oust Sessions, who won the President's ire in 2017, after recusing himself from the Department of Justice-led probe into the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Since then, Trump has repeatedly targeted Sessions and his former deputy Rod Rosenstein, who was eventually handed oversight of the probe and appointed Robert Mueller to carry forward the investigation. 

Mueller was appointed to the job after Trump fired the former FBI director James Comey from his role, in light of the revelation that the former FBI boss had been leading the probe into alleged collusion.

Meanwhile, after Sessions - the 71-year-old former U.S. senator from Alabama - was ousted from his role on Wednesday, Trump named Sessions' chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general.

He said that he would nominate someone for the job soon.

The shocking ouster, merely a day after GOP's overall loss in the Congressional elections, raised fears over Trump's possible attempt to hinder Mueller's Russia probe.

The possibility has led U.S. progressive groups to call for protests across the country, to demand that Trump refrain from hindering the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling to help him win the 2016 U.S. election.

Led by the activist group MoveOn, the protests are reportedly operating under the banner "Nobody is Above the Law."

The group has called for people to gather in cities at 5 pm on Thursday in an effort to protect the investigation led by Mueller.

MoveOn said in a statement on its website, "Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel's Trump-Russia investigation."

The group has pledged that at least one rally would be held in each state.

So far, since being handed the investigation, Mueller has indicted a number of Russian individuals and firms for meddling in the election to help Trump win.

Further, as the Special Counsel, Mueller is also investigating whether anyone on the Trump campaign collaborated with Russians, even though Trump has repeatedly denied collusion and has labelled the investigation a partisan witch hunt.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House of Representative too have called for Mueller's Russia probe to be protected

The Democratic representative Jerrold Nadler, the likely incoming chair of the House judiciary committee said in a statement, "The firing of Jeff Sessions will be investigated and people will be held accountable. This must begin immediately, and if not, then a Democratic Congress will make this a priority in January."

Nadler said in his statement, "The firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions fits a clear pattern of interference from President Donald Trump in the work of the Department of Justice and the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller."

Explaining, "There is no mistaking what this means, and what is at stake: this is a constitutionally perilous moment for our country and for the president. Donald Trump may think he has the power to hire and fire whomever he pleases, but he cannot take such action if it is determined that it is for the purposes of subverting the rule of law and obstructing justice. If he abuses his office in such a fashion, then there will be consequences."

Adding, "We are immediately issuing multiple letters to key officials demanding that they preserve all relevant documents related to this action to make sure that the investigation and any evidence remains safe from improper interference or destruction."

Meanwhile, Representative Elijah Cummings, who is set to take over the House committee on oversight and government reform, too has vowed an investigation into the firing and said, "Congress must now investigate the real reason for this termination, confirm that Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker is recused from all aspects of the special counsel's probe, and ensure that the Department of Justice safeguards the integrity of the Mueller investigation."

Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader has warned of a "constitutional crisis" if the Mueller investigation is terminated.

Schumer told reporters, "I find the timing very suspect. Protecting Mueller and his investigation is paramount. It would create a constitutional crisis if this were a prelude to ending or greatly limiting the Mueller investigation, and I hope President Trump and those he listens to will refrain from that."

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