AUGUSTA — Dozens of people gathered Thursday evening on the steps of the State House to protest the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Session and express their support of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

This protest was part of a large group of events that happened worldwide, organized by Move On, a left-wing group that describes itself as “a force for social justice and political progress.” Hundreds of events were organized, stretching as far as Amsterdam. A similar protest in Portland was attended by more than 300 people. The Portland Press Herald reported that rallies also were held in Bangor, Belfast, Brunswick, Kittery, Lewiston and Rockland.

The local protest was spearheaded by Capital Area Indivisible, an Augusta-area group that is the local chapter organization that resists the agendas of Republicans and President Donald Trump, and Suit Up Maine, a progressive advocacy group.

One organizer for Capital Area Indivisible, Jessica Gorton of Readfield, has helped organize other area events for the group, including the 2017 Women’s March. She said the group’s activism is wider than serving as a foil for the GOP and Trump.

“There is a lot to fight against with this administration; both the president himself, but also the people he has appointed,” she said.

The Associated Press reported that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced out of office Wednesday, based on a letter from Sessions that mentions Trump’s request that he resign. Trump then appointed an acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, who was Sessions’ chief of staff.


The AP reported that the resignation “was the culmination of a toxic relationship” between Sessions and Trump based on a few factors, but largely Session’s having recused himself from dealing with Mueller’s probe.

The protesters challenged the legality of Whitaker’s appointment by Trump, saying they thought the next in line for the position was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“According to the chain of command, (Rosenstein) should be the attorney general,” Gorton said. “It’s an obstruction of justice to appoint someone who has been very vocal about his disdain for the Mueller investigation and we think that we can’t stand by and let this stand.”

Indivisible member Eileen Kreutz, of Industry, traveled to attend the protest after hearing about it through communications from Indivisible. She said she was protesting the “forced” resignation of Sessions and Trump’s dubious appointment of an acting attorney general.

“We pretty much expected Sessions to be fired,” Kreutz said. “What happened immediately after, Trump has taken the step of putting someone in place, that’s an illegal step.”

Kreutz said the appointment of Whitaker, whom the AP called “a Republican Party loyalist,” eventually could end the probe by cutting funding.


“The person he’s put in, he’s got a plan to cut the funding for the whole probe,” she said.

In 2017, Whitaker wrote an opinion piece featured on CNN titled “Mueller’s investigation of Trump is going too far.”

The protesters sang songs, brandished signs and discussed issues with speakers, including Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, who won re-election to her post on Tuesday. Maloney said Trump was “sidestepping the law” in an attempt to halt the investigation, which has resulted in “35 indictments.”

“When you no longer have Sessions as the attorney general and you have a new attorney general, Robert Mueller has a new boss,” she said into a megaphone. “And that is a problem for all of us.

“President Trump has fired the attorney general. There is no other way to say it,” she added.

Kreutz said if any president, regardless of political party, was dodging procedure with appointments, she would be protesting in the same manner.


Gorton added that the protest was a success, even though political activists are probably run ragged from Tuesday’s elections.

“I think there are people who are hungry to show they are scared for their country,” “It’s one day after the election, we’re all tired … and I don’t think the timing of the announcement from the (Trump) administration is an accident.”

Maloney urged the protesters to call U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to express their support for the Russia probe.

“He has been working hard and we are in danger of having this all come to an end,” she said.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

Twitter: @SamShepME

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