Demonstrators outside the White House during January’s Women’s March. | Sait Serkan Gurbuz / AP
By John Wojcik / 12.19.2017
In response to the drive by Donald Trump, right-wing media, and the GOP to crush the Robert Mueller and congressional investigations, a coalition of more than 25 national organizations is set to trigger rapid-response mass demonstrations in more than 600 U.S. cities on a few hours notice.
The groups say they are able to turn out massive numbers of people the same day that either Trump announces a firing of Mueller or the GOP pulls the plug on congressional investigations. Former Attorney General Eric Holder said on Sunday that Trump’s attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller now require “mass, peaceful demonstrations by the American people.”
MoveOn.org said in a special statement issued last night that its members and allies from 25 national organizations are out in force, preemptively planning “Nobody Is Above the Law” rapid-response actions across the country, ready to deploy if Trump fires Mueller. They say that if he fired Mueller in the morning, the demonstrations would break out all over the nation by the same evening, and if the firing comes late in the day, mass actions from coast-to-coast would be underway by the following morning.
In the face of a Republican-run Congress that has been shamefully slow to act, the mass actions are seen as the way the American people themselves will take the reins, showing they are determined to defend democracy and the rule of law.
Cable news stations and their websites last night already carried headlines about the impending demonstrations. On MSNBC, the headline was “Trump is not above the law coalition plans rapid response demonstrations in 400 cities.”
As of 6 a.m. EST this morning, more than 100,000 people had already pledged to attend actions across the country, with the number growing by the minute. Also since last night, new groups announced plans for actions in Hawaii and Alaska, bringing the 48-state total from late Tuesday to 50 by Wednesday morning.
Click here to find the location of a local protest action in your area.
Fox News, GOP lawmakers, and Trump himself have been attacking the Mueller probe daily, focusing lately on claims that it is “biased” because two members of the team had tweeted anti-Trump statements. They failed to mention that the tweets came out last summer and that the same individuals had also sent out tweets critical of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, Mueller had both of them reassigned off the probe.
Trump has also claimed that Mueller obtained emails from his transition team that are protected by presidential privilege and is demanding they be returned. Trump, of course, was not president during the transition, making his claim as ridiculous as many others his legal team has lobbed against Mueller.
At first, Republicans said Mueller, a Vietnam War veteran and lifelong Republican, was a good choice to head the investigation. They have changed their tune now that he has filed charges against four top Trump associates, two of whom which have already plead guilty to criminal charges. Mueller’s indictments give the lie to another charge coming from the right: that he is simply on an anti-Trump fishing expedition.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, has echoed calls by GOP lawmakers for another absurd right-wing proposal that a second special counsel be appointed to investigate Mueller, the first special counsel.
As Mueller closes in on the president, the danger is not just limited to Trump’s possible firing of Mueller. He has numerous other options available to him, including removal of the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who supervises Mueller. It is obvious that Rosenstein is on board with Mueller, because he has allowed Mueller to pursue threads of inquiry that go beyond simply Russian hacking during the elections. (Witness his prosecution of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.) Trump could get rid of Rosenstein and put someone else in that spot who could effectively thwart the Mueller investigation by limiting its scope or cutting off funding.
Elizabeth de la Varga, a former assistant U.S. attorney for San Francisco, told Politico the orchestrated right-wing attack on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his staff may not be a prelude to firing Mueller, but to justifying Trump pardons of anyone Mueller indicts. She called pardons “a smarter strategy” for Trump because he “prefers to be manipulative.”
Mueller has already indicted three former top Trump campaign staffers and obtained a guilty plea on one count of lying to the FBI from former Trump National Security Director Michael Flynn. And Trump himself raised the possibility of pardoning Flynn.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,” he told reporters on Dec. 15. “We’ll see what happens. Let’s see.”
Many congressional Democrats, however, see a rerun of Richard Nixon’s late-1973 “Saturday Night Massacre” – when Nixon tried to halt the Watergate investigation by ordering top Justice Department officials to fire then-Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox – as more likely. Attorney General Eliot Richardson refused and quit. Deputy William Ruckelshaus refused and was fired. The #3, Solicitor General Robert Bork, obeyed Nixon. An enormous firestorm erupted.
That led every Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee to demand hearings on presidential pardon powers. They wrote panel chairman Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., on Dec. 18 that Trump, “by sending a signal he may pardon Michael Flynn and perhaps others willing to assist Mr. Mueller, has raised serious concerns about obstruction of justice and abuse of the pardon power.” The then-GOP-run panel held pardon hearings after Democratic President Bill Clinton’s pardons in 2001.
Already, actions are planned in more than 600 cities nationwide should Trump move to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. | MoveOn.org
Also, if the plug is pulled on the Congressional investigations, doubts about the special counsel can be increased, making it more difficult, for example, for Mueller to probe deeper into Trump’s finances. Such an inquiry would have the potential to expose things far worse than what has been seen so far.
“Our response in the hours following an authoritarian move to put Trump above the law will help drive the national media narrative and could certainly help determine whether we’re able to make sure Congress holds Trump accountable,” MoveOn said in its statement last night.
Mass collective action is what it’s going to take to block Trump’s subversion of democracy.
Originally published by People’s World under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States license.