Demonstrators in New London call for protection of Mueller investigation

People hold a demonstration Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the Parade Plaza in New London. It was held because participants feel special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian collusion during the 2016 U.S. presidential election is threatened since the ousting of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. The rally was nationally coordinated by MoveOn.org and people signed up to participate in a rally near them.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
People hold a demonstration Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the Parade Plaza in New London. It was held because participants feel special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian collusion during the 2016 U.S. presidential election is threatened since the ousting of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. The rally was nationally coordinated by MoveOn.org and people signed up to participate in a rally near them. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

New London — More than 100 people gathered for a demonstration at Parade Plaza early Thursday evening, to call for the protection of Robert Mueller's investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 election.

While the event was billed as a silent demonstration, gatherers intermittently cheered as cars turning off Bank Street honked — ostensibly in support — and they occasionally chanted statements like, "This is what democracy looks like."

It was one of hundreds of demonstrations planned across the country in response to the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which Sessions said was at the request of President Donald Trump, on Wednesday. Sessions had recused himself from the Mueller investigation, which angered Trump.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker — who expressed concern last year in an op-ed that the investigation could "start to look like a political fishing expedition" — does not intend to recuse himself from the probe.

That "he has already verbally strategized on how to kneecap the investigation, the FBI investigation, is a very obvious threat to learning whether ... our president has been bought," said Andrea Kennedy, a Massachusetts resident who chose to attend the New London demonstration because she was visiting her parents in East Lyme.

So how did hundreds of protests get scheduled on such short notice?

The progressive advocacy group MoveOn had organized a rapid-response network, called Nobody is Above the Law, in case Trump "crossed a red line."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., attended the rally in New Haven, while other events were held in Danbury, Fairfield and other Connecticut cities. At the New London event, some had signed up to get email alerts on the response last year, while others signed up last night.

Falling into the latter camp was Luke Karis, co-president of the Connecticut College Democrats and one of about eight students from the college to attend, he said.

Karis commented that it's "pretty clear" there was Russian interference. (In a report the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released in early 2017, the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency expressed "high confidence" that Russia interfered in the election.)

"I think this shouldn't be a partisan issue, this should be a bipartisan issue," said Karis, who was holding a sign reading "Protect the Mueller investigations."

Referencing a parody of Shaggy's song "It Wasn't Me," Groton resident David Janetos held up a sign reading, "Special Counsel got ya sweatin' like crazy saying that it's a witch hunt."

Janetos said he came out both to raise awareness of the issue, and to urge passage of the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. Two Democratic and two Republican senators introduced the bill in April.

"I say, let the investigation come to its conclusion, and we will find out what the facts are," said Preston resident Rosemary O'Lone, who was holding a sign that said "Resist." She added of Trump, "It's entirely possible that there have been no crimes committed on his part. However, there have been a lot of apples to drop."

e.moser@theday.com

People hold a demonstration Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the Parade Plaza in New London. It was held because participants feel special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian collusion during the 2016 U.S. presidential election is threatened since the ousting of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. The rally was nationally coordinated by MoveOn.org and people signed up to participate in a rally near them.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
People hold a demonstration Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the Parade Plaza in New London. It was held because participants feel special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian collusion during the 2016 U.S. presidential election is threatened since the ousting of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general. The rally was nationally coordinated by MoveOn.org and people signed up to participate in a rally near them. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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