Ac­tivists call for protests to pro­tect Rus­sia probe


AT­LANTA (Reuters) – US pro­gres­sive groups will stage hun­dreds of protests na­tion­wide on Thurs­day to de­mand that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump do noth­ing to hin­der an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian med­dling to help him win the 2016 US elec­tion.

The protests, op­er­at­ing un­der the ban­ner “No­body is Above the Law” and led by the ac­tivist group MoveOn, called for peo­ple to gather in cities at 5 p.m. on Thurs­day in an ef­fort to pro­tect the in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller.

The ac­tion was spurred by Trump’s move on Wed­nes­day to re­place At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions with Ses­sions’s chief of staff, Matthew Whi­taker, as act­ing at­tor­ney-gen­eral. Ses­sions had re­cused him­self from over­see­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, while Whi­taker has called for it to be scaled down.

Trump an­nounced the move the day af­ter a Con­gres­sional elec­tion that saw his Repub­li­cans lose con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives but gain seats in the Se­nate.

“Don­ald Trump has in­stalled a crony to over­see the spe­cial coun­sel’s Trump-Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” MoveOn said on its web­site. It pledged that at least one rally would be held in each state.

Mueller has in­dicted a num­ber of Rus­sian in­di­vid­u­als and firms for med­dling in the elec­tion to help Trump win, and is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether any­one on the Trump cam­paign col­lab­o­rated with them. Trump de­nies col­lu­sion and calls the in­ves­ti­ga­tion a par­ti­san witch hunt.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment is sep­a­rately in­ves­ti­gat­ing pay­ments that were made dur­ing the cam­paign to women who said they had af­fairs with Trump to bar them from speak­ing.

Ses­sions has long drawn Trump’s ire for re­cus­ing him­self from the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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