Large rally at Pulaski Park in support of Mueller investigation

  • Bill Newman, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ western Massachusetts office, delivers remarks at a rally on Saturday calling president Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General of the Justice Department unconstitutional. —STAFF PHOTO/LUIS FIELDMAN

  • A large crowd gathered at Pulaski Park on Saturday to voice support for Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and to call on Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation.  —STAFF PHOTO/LUIS FIELDMAN

Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2018 6:10:11 PM

NORTHAMPTON – A large crowd gathered on Saturday at Pulaski Park to protest President Donald Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General and to rally in support of special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Activists held signs that read “Nobody is above the law” and “Protect Mueller,” and called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing Mueller’s investigation citing previous statements attacking the investigation and a conflict of interest on behalf of Whitaker.

“We are here today to say ‘No’ to Donald Trump, ‘No’ to Matt Whitaker, and to say something really important – the law applies to the president of the United States no matter how much he thinks it doesn’t,” Bill Newman, director of the ACLU of Massachusetts’ western Massachusetts office, said at the rally to a cheering crowd.

The rally in Northampton joined a nationwide protest organized by hundreds of coalitions in the wake of Trump demanding former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation and the subsequent appointment of Whitaker as Attorney General of the Justice Department – a move many consider unconstitutional.

“(Whitaker) has called Mueller’s investigation a ‘witch hunt’ and he has said Mueller should not do the critical piece of an investigation, which is follow the money,” Newman said. “Whitaker says, ‘No, don’t look at Trump’s money, tax returns, or whether Vladimir Putin has something on Trump.’ He’s an apologist, an enabler, and a destroyer.”

Whitaker was appointed Acting Attorney General by Trump on Wednesday after the forced resignation of Sessions the day after the midterm elections when Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives. Whitaker was Sessions’ chief of staff and was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa from 2005 to 1007.

“His appointment is unconstitutional,” Newman said holding up a copy of the Constitution, and read Article II, Section 2, Clause 2, which states that so-called principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.

“Congress has not given the president the authority, the right, and the power simply to appoint the Attorney General of the United States without the advice and consent of the Senate,” Newman said.

Vermont Law School professor Jennifer Taub also delivered remarks to the crowd, and she described Whitaker as a “hired gun” for the president to try to undermine any investigation by the Department of Justice into Trump, his family, or any of his allies.

“He must step down,” Taub said. “What worries us is that this lawless president is known for pardoning people, for firing people, for hiring people like Whitaker, and then he might just shut down all these federal investigations.”

Newly-elected state Rep. for the 1st Hampshire District, Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, said, “I am excited what happened Tuesday night because it is a step in the right direction – we saw the House flip. That’s big.”

Sabadosa commended all the organizers across the country that made that possible, but said there is still work to do, and encouraged people that belong to activist groups to stay “activated.”

“You don’t have to be out every single day in the streets, but you need to be talking to your neighbors everyday,” she said. “We need to keep moving forward … It’s going to take continuous conversations.”

The rally was organized by the Pioneer Valley Women’s March and Indivisible Northampton.

Luis Fieldman can be reached at lfieldman@gazettenet.com




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