Hoping to protect the Mueller investigation, people from Vermont and northern New York joined national protests at 5 p.m. Thursday against President Donald Trump’s installation of Matt Whitaker as Acting Attorney General.
It’s cold and a light sleet is beginning to fall but it does not deter about 50 people from gathering in Plattsburgh’s downtown park to join nationwide Nobody Is Against the Law protests. “Acting Attorney General Whitaker must recuse himself because of his conflicts of interests with the Mueller investigation. Congress must take emergency measures to legislatively protect the Mueller investigation.”
As the crowd listens to speakers, a Trump supporter shouts at them as he passes by. “God bless President Trump.”
A member of the crowd shouts back: “God help President Trump.”
“I should have probably gone ‘God help us all.” Peru resident Alan Mussen adds “I came because the man that’s in charge of the investigation now, Mr. Whitaker, has said that there is no collusion with the Russians they should be investigating Hilary Clinton. She’s the one who colluded with the Russians. That’s why I’m here.”
This protest in Plattsburgh was part of a nationwide rapid response that local Move On host Elizabeth Gorevic says organizers had long prepared for. “I think it’s important for us to speak up to make sure our voices are heard throughout the country. That it’s not all about a Trump rally and his base and supporters. That there are many many people who care deeply about our democracy about our country who are really ready to stand up and be heard.”
Plattsburgh resident Terri Sartoris held a sign depicting the clenched solidarity fist and saying “Protect Mueller.” “After the election after the midterms and the Democrats won the House I actually was able to sleep well for one night. And then it was like the anxiety the nonsense just started all over again. And since Trump fired the Attorney General I believe that the Russian investigation is in peril right now. That our freedoms are in peril. And I think that he appointed this guy just because he’s going to get him out of jail free.”
Sartoris believes President Trump fired Sessions and appointed Whitaker out of fear. “I mean he was losing his cookies (laughs) after the Democrats won the House. And I think that he just panicked before the Democrats take control. I think Mueller is a very intelligent individual and I think he’s planned for this because he knows what’s been going on. I think in the next few days we’re probably going to see a lot of indictments just fly out. And I think he has a plan. Or I hope he has plan (laughs).”
Citizens’ Climate Lobby 21st District liaison Tim Palmer says while this Plattsburgh protest is small the nationwide effort intends to send a message to Congress and Trump. “I think street democracy is absolutely critical. It can’t be the only thing though. And we also need to be at the same time that we’re pushing with street democracy going and I believe having respectful, mutually respectful, conversations with our elected officials regardless of which party they’re from.”
Rallies and protests were held across the region and the nation. In Burlington, Vermont more than 300 people marched in a larger and louder protest organized by the Peace and Justice Center from the Federal Building to Burlington City Hall.
Democratic Congressman Peter Welch issued a statement regretting that he could not join his fellow Vermonters: “Thank you all for gathering today to express our mutual and deep concern that the guardrails of our democracy are at risk.” Senator Patrick Leahy, also a Democrat, wrote: “You are doing your country a great service, and your collective voice may very well prevent a constitutional crisis.” He added: “The truth will come out, one way or another.”
For his part, President Trump called the investigation a hoax Friday.