Port Townsend City Council member and rally co-organizer Michelle Sandoval stands in front of a crowd of about 300 Thursday. Rallies like this one were planned across the North Olympic Peninsula. (Jeannie McMacken/ Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend City Council member and rally co-organizer Michelle Sandoval stands in front of a crowd of about 300 Thursday. Rallies like this one were planned across the North Olympic Peninsula. (Jeannie McMacken/ Peninsula Daily News)

Rallies nationwide aim to protect Mueller investigation

PORT TOWNSEND — A crowd estimated at 300 people gathered at 5 p.m. Thursday at the corner of Sims Way and Kearney Street to protest President Donald Trump’s firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the impact of his replacement on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“Nobody is Above The Law” rallies also were held in Port Angeles, Sequim, and 45 other cities and towns in Washington state. They joined other municipalities throughout the nation in peaceful demonstrations.

Trump installed Matthew Whitaker, who had served as chief of staff under Sessions, as acting attorney general.

The move means that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will no longer oversee the federal Russia investigation, which he has looked over since Sessions recused himself early last year due to his work on Trump’s campaign.

According to constitutional scholars cited by Moveon.org, which has organized protests, this is unconstitutional because Whittaker has not gone through the Senate confirmation process.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson joined a coalition of 18 state attorneys general, including those in Oregon and California, to urge Whitaker to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

The letter questioned Whitaker’s impartiality to “maintain public trust in the integrity of the investigation.

“An attorney general’s highest responsibility is to uphold the law and ensure public confidence in the impartial administration of justice by leading an empowered and independent department,” the letter continues.

“We hope you share that goal.”

The rallies were to demand that Whitaker immediately recuse himself as supervisor of the investigation and to demand accountability from the Trump administration, said Mara Lathrop, organizer and host of the Port Townsend rally.

Lathrop said this was a “very grass roots effort that happened very quickly.

“Yesterday afternoon I was on a conference call with Moveon.org and about 300 others from around country,” she said. “We reassured each other that we could all do this.”

Lathrop said it is “inexcusable what is going on and that people of many political stripes want the Mueller investigation to move ahead, unimpeded.”

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladailynews.com,

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