Protesters express concern over Mueller investigation’s future

Ann Smalls waves to the passing cars, thanking them for their support of the protest of Trump’s dismissal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

Donald Orr, News Contributor

Community members protested in front of the Benton County Courthouse Thursday evening in response to President Donald Trump’s dismissal of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Following Trump’s appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the rally was one of hundreds to break out throughout the country as protesters fear that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is threatened. Over 100 people were in downtown Corvallis on Thursday for the peaceful protest, several of them holding signs saying ‘Honk for Democracy,’ which led to dozens of drivers honking their vehicles as they drove down Fourth Street. Signs with imagery of Mueller and Trump were prominent throughout the evening, and “No one is above the law” was one of several chants that resonated with people as they cheered through the evening.

“We’re a democracy. We deserve truth and justice for this independent investigation to be thorough and complete,” protester Nancy Mildren said. “By trying to kick Sessions out and put someone who’s trying to squelch the Mueller investigation—it’s such a circus.”

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Other protesters had similar sentiments throughout the night, as backlash continues to mount against Matthew Whitaker, who has previously expressed deep criticism over the Russia probe.

“The fact that [Trump] fired Sessions is not good—we all can see what’s coming next, and we’re not okay with it,” Catherine Stearns, a seasoned activist, said.

Protesters like Mildren and Stearns are concerned that Trump will shut down the investigation, but are glad that people are taking a stand.

“People obviously are against what’s going on and want their voices heard,” Stearns said. “This is one way we get our voices heard, by practicing our free speech rights.”

A large amount of the crowd members were from liberal or Democratic groups in the area, including Nancy Greenman, a community activist. Greenman organizes canvassing for Linn County Democrats and the Neighborhood Leader Program, which specializes in voter education. Greenman said she is concerned that Whitaker was appointed partly because he is against the Mueller investigation, like Trump.

“He’s appointed someone who’s known to President Trump for having an opinion about the Mueller investigation that President Trump shares,” Greenman said.

Greenman summed up the protesters’ concerns – that in the midst of political turnover, the Russia investigation will be curtailed.

“We’re concerned that before a new oversight committee can form, that Trump will manage to get the Justice department to shut down the investigation,” Greenman said.

Thursday’s protest was one of many throughout the country as the hashtag ‘#ProtectMueller’ was the top trending term on Twitter Thursday night. Thousands of demonstrators mobilized and united to voice their opinion that “no one is above the law,” aimed specifically at President Trump.