Under twinkling lights outside the Minnesota State Capitol, several hundred people braved Thursday night’s frigid weather to rally in support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 national elections.
“When we talk about holding power accountable, that means no one is above the law,” Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, told the crowd. “That requires justice to not just be blind, but nonpartisan.”
The protest was one of many nationwide sparked by President Donald Trump’s firing Wednesday of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose recusal from the Mueller investigation had long angered his boss. Trump replaced Sessions with a longtime ally, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general.
Activists demanded that Whitaker recuse himself and called on lawmakers in Washington to support Senate and House bills that would protect Mueller’s investigation.
They listened to speakers, chanted, “Rule of law,” sang “America the Beautiful” and “This Land Is Your Land,” and carried signs with a variety of slogans and demands.
“We the people are the ultimate power within our democracy,” Belladonna-Carrera yelled to those bundled on the Capitol steps as light snow fell.
“It is critical to protect the rule of law,” added state Rep. Dave Pinto, a St. Paul DFLer.
Markus Fasel, who held a poster depicting Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin intertwined in a heart, said he saw Sessions’ forced resignation as proof that Trump is hiding something from the public.
Fasel, an immigrant from Switzerland who lives in West St. Paul, said he has attended several protests since Trump took office to combat “one outrageous thing after another,” and that “it’s pretty tiring.”
Danelle Reid, of Minneapolis, and her adult son, Matt Reid, said they had been preparing for this moment for months. Shortly after Mueller’s investigation began, the Reids signed up for a rapid response listserv on MoveOn.org, a progressive public policy advocacy group, to be notified of any pending actions. Sessions’ firing prompted a “constitutional crisis warning” on the site.
“We have to keep protesting until the new Democratic House reinstates him,” Danelle Reid said of Mueller, in the event he is fired.
The rally also expanded into other topics, such as Trump’s immigration policies. When Ryan Hankins reminded the crowd of Trump’s campaign promises to release his tax returns and divest many of his business interests, some in the crowd yelled, “Liar! Liar!” and “Lock him up!”
A single counterprotester stood nearby wearing a red Make America Great Again hat and toting a Trump flag. After the rally, several anti-Trump activists argued with him about the president’s policies.