‘A direct threat to our democracy’
Across state and country, groups call on Congress to rein in Trump
GREENWICH — Calling the “rule of law” at stake, nearly 300 people gathered at Greenwich Town Hall Thursday evening to demand that Congress protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Donald Trump.
“When the president controls or takes steps to end a lawful investigation, particularly when that investigation is into his own behavior, that is a direct threat to our democracy,” said Joanna Swomley, co-founder of Indivisible Greenwich.
“We need our Congress, which is the only body with the constitutional power and obligation to reign the president in, to do so. Our presence here tonight and the presence of our fellow Americans across the country sends a message to our representatives that we want them to act now,” she said.
The protest in Greenwich — one of hundreds held across the country — was put into action after Trump asked for and received the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, the day after the midterm elections. Trump had repeatedly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation into Trump and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Nine hundred groups took part in protests nationally, including 14 in Connecticut, led by Indivisible, Move On and other activist groups, said Swomley.
“We should take heart that so many of us are here standing today,” Indivisible Greenwich co-founder Nerlyn Pierson said. “Not just in Greenwich but in the entire state and in the entire country, fighting to protect our country and our democracy. Let this show of solidarity strengthen our resolve and energize us for what is to come in the days and weeks ahead.”
This was not the first protest in town for Indivisible, which was formed in 2016 after Trump’s victory. The group has demonstrated at Town Hall against the Trump administration’s immigration policy, and held a “teach-in” on Greenwich Avenue last year to protest efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The group became a major player in municipal elections last year, driving unprecedented performances by Democrats in local offices. That trend continued Tuesday when Greenwich elected its first representative to the state House in a century, and its first Democrat to the state Senate since 1930.
Both houses picked up Democratic seats as Ned Lamont, a Democrat from Greenwich, was elected governor.
The gains by Democrats were applauded by several speakers at the rally, including U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th, also a Greenwich resident, addressed members of the Republican Party.
“You have to listen to the people of Connecticut and see what happened Tuesday night,” Himes said. “I know it is hard to break with your president, but look at what happened on Tuesday night. You can differentiate yourselves and show your thoughtful independence if you are a proud Republican — but stand with all of us on the essential topic of preserving the foundational democracy that allows us to have the partisan argument that makes this country strong.”
Swomley told the crowd the subject at hand went beyond partisan politics.
“This is not a Democrat issue and it is not a Republican issue,” she said to loud applause. “This is an American issue. This is an issue about the rule of law, the constitution and of our very democracy.”
Other cities and towns in the state that hosted protests included Norwalk, New Haven, Danbury and Fairfield.
In Norwalk, close to 200 protestors were about to disperse from the Norwalk Green when a small group of counter protestors appeared across the street, on East Avenue.
The counter group wielded an American flag and a traffic cone, which members used as a bullhorn to chant “Lock her up” and other messages. A large group of those rallying on the Green crossed the road, interrupting traffic. The two camps stood feet apart as the counter protesters — four men — made sexist and racist comments toward the group rallying to protect Mueller. Police units were called to the Green, and both sides shouted profanities at one another as officers looked on.
Around 5:45 p.m., the demonstration broke up without any violence.