Troubled that the president has crossed a “red line” toward firing special counsel Robert Mueller, more than 900 activists have planned protests on Thursday at 5 p.m. nationwide, including in Santa Barbara. Michal Lynch, who has led protests in town since Trump was elected, stated the demonstration of support for Mueller takes place at De la Guerra Plaza this evening.
After the midterm elections ended on Tuesday, Trump told his embattled Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to clear out on Wednesday, an action that activists see endangers Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference with and secret propaganda during the 2016 presidential election. The president has verbally dismissed the Mueller probe, calling it a “witch hunt” into his legitimacy in the White House. When Sessions recused himself early on from overseeing the investigation, based on contacts with Russian officials during Trump’s campaign, the president had pressured him to resign, but Session stuck it out.
Into Sessions’s office has stepped Matthew Whitaker, who before becoming the attorney general’s chief of staff was a political commentator on news programs, heard criticizing Mueller’s probe, calling it a dangerous overreach. He suggested on CNN in 2017 that a temporary AG could halt the investigation by choking off its funding. He also opined that investigating Trump’s finances would be a “red line,” according to the Washington Post. He urged Rod Rosenstein, the number two attorney in the AG’s office and the Justice official who oversaw Mueller and his team in Sessions’s stead, to limit their scope.
Whitaker, now the temporary Attorney General and leading the Department of Justice, had served as the U.S. attorney in Iowa from 2004 to 2009. He’d attempted a run for Senate in 2014, but lost to Republican Joni Ernst.