Local demonstrators support Mueller, demand Trump not hinder probe
Several dozen Central Texas residents responded Thursday to a national call to stage protests in support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the aftermath of the firing of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had rescued himself from the Mueller probe of Russian meddling in U.S. elections, and President Trump's appointment of loyalist Matt Whitaker as Acting Attorney General.
About three-dozen people, many carrying signs, gathered at 5 p.m. Thursday in Heritage Square in downtown Waco.
"Trump is not above the law!" they chanted.
About 20 others demonstrated in front of the Bell County Courthouse in Belton.
The groups protesting here and in hundreds of other locations around the country under the banner “Nobody is Above the Law” are demanding that President Donald Trump do nothing to interfere with the Mueller investigation.
"I think we need to let the Mueller investigation run its course," said protester and former McLennan County Democratic Chair David Schleicher who helped helped organize the event.
"We saw that this was happening all over the nation and we wanted to make sure Waco was a part of it," he said.
Central Texas Action Network pulled together the Waco rally less than 24-hours, coinciding with others held across the U.S. and internationally.
"It got triggered with Trump fired Jeff Sessions and we saw it as a direct threat to the Mueller investigation," said Central Texas Action Network representative Cheryl Foster.
Foster believes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should have been named Acting AG.
Whitaker's appointment raises major ethical concerns, she says.
"It should have gone down the chain of command to Rosenstein but it didn't, he put in one of his buddies," said Foster. "It's not good optics, it's not good politics, it's the swampiest move in the swamp yet."
McLennan County Republican Party Chair says the group has the right to protest, but believes the demonstrators are wrong and the appointment wasn't improper.
"We all have a right to voice our opinion, but they also have the right to be wrong, and they are this time," said Ker.
“The president, no matter who the president is, gets to select his cabinet with the ratification of the Senate, so the appointment of Mr. Whitaker as the acting attorney general is well within the president’s authority," he said.
Ker said it was premature to say the move was putting Mueller's probe in jeopardy.
"It's a bit early to say what's going to happen to it," said Ker.
CNN was reporting Thursday that Whitaker won’t recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons will try to force a vote next week on legislation to protect Mueller.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill in April. It would give special counsels a 10-day window to seek review of a firing.
Foster and Schleicher urged Wacoans to reach out to their local representatives in Washington, specifically Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and Congressman Bill Flores, to safeguard the Mueller investigation.
"We're in the streets screaming, but they're the ones that can actually do the protection," said Foster.