City News

Women’s March, other local advocacy groups protest Trump’s attorney general appointment

US Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, spoke to hundreds of Madison residents Thursday evening at a rally protesting President Trump’s removal of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign.

Image By: Jacob Schellpfeffer

In response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation at the request of President Trump, hundreds of Madison residents concerned with the protection of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation rallied on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol Thursday evening.

Sessions, who had recused himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, resigned as Attorney General Wednesday, with his Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker replacing him. This puts Whitaker in charge of Mueller’s investigation, which he has been a vocal critic of. He wrote a CNN opinion piece last August arguing Mueller’s investigation went too far.

The rally’s organizers called on Whitaker to recuse himself from the investigation and stringently denied they were rallying in favor of Sessions, who the ACLU called “the worst attorney general in modern American history.”

“This is not a protest to support Jeff Sessions,” Amy Dean, communications director for Women’s March Wisconsin, said. “We're looking for Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation.”

The rally occurred simultaneously with hundreds of others across the country organized by progressive advocacy group Move On. Rallies were planned ahead of time in the case of Mueller’s firing or the removal of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was removed from overseeing the investigation by Whitaker.

“I’m not crying a tear for Jeff Sessions,” US Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said at the rally. “I will say, he knew enough. He had to recuse himself.”

Pocan has co-sponsored a House bill to protect Mueller’s investigation, though he cast doubt over the bill being passed as long as Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, remains Speaker of the House. The mention of Ryan’s name prompted loud boos from the crowd.

Like Pocan, John Nichols, a political commentator for The Nation, denounced Sessions while remaining critical of Trump’s move.

“I will not stand before you and tell you that I mourn the departure of Jeff Sessions because that man should never have been the attorney general of the United States,” Nichols said. “That man has a record of racism and xenophobia and he used the Department of Justice against justice. I am glad that Jeff Sessions is gone.”

He stressed that his dislike for Sessions did not mean he supported his replacement with Whitaker.

“Matthew Whitaker does not deserve our respect or sympathy,” he said. “I demand that he recuse himself.”

Wisconsin State Representative Chris Taylor, D-Madison, was the only speaker to offer any sort of support of Sessions, though she heavily criticised the Trump administration.

“I never in a million years thought I’d be up here defending Jeff Sessions,” she said. “Jeff Sessions did the right thing and he recused himself. The people of our state and country deserve to know the truth. We deserve to know the truth and we are going to keep pushing until that truth is known.”

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