200 Spokane demonstrators say Mueller’s Russia probe must continue

November 10, 2018

Spokane demonstrators gathered Friday outside the Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse urging protection of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. elections.

This week’s forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions has lead to fresh concerns that the ongoing probe could be jeopardized.

The roughly 200 protesters demanded that new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker recuse himself. The local effort was among many around the country this week following Sessions’ departure and President Donald Trump’s appointment of Whitaker.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the Mueller investigation,” said Mary Pat Treuthart, professor of law at Gonzaga University. “That is a big concern to us.”

Most cities around the county held protests Thursday night, but Spokane organizers waited until noon Friday for better organization, better weather and safety reasons.

After speeches and chants, some Spokane demonstrators moved to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ office, while others went through security at the federal courthouse to state their case within the walls of the courthouse. Outside the courthouse, Shannon Eller’s picket sign read, “Whitaker must recuse.”

“Trump is not above the law,” Eller said. “I want Mueller to be able to continue the investigation.”

Whitaker has been critical of the Mueller investigation, while Sessions recused himself from oversight.

Cynthia Hamilton, organizer of the demonstration and Indivisible Spokane founder, passed around petitions “to protect Mueller,” she said.

About 70 people left the protest and walked down Riverside Avenue to McMorris Rodgers’ office a few blocks away.

Cars honked as the crowd approached the building. The sixth floor hallways grew crowded with protesters looking to file complaints and ask the congresswoman’s aides about her stance on the investigation and what she was going to do to protect Mueller.

She was not in the office Friday, but Jared Powell, spokesman for McMorris Rodgers, said in a written statement Friday, “From the beginning, Cathy has said she wants Mueller to be able to complete his investigation. Her opinion on that has not changed. She also wants to see that investigation completed as soon as possible. Right now, there’s no reason to believe that investigation won’t continue as is.”

At least 70 written complaints were filed with the congresswoman’s office Friday as aides handed out pens and pieces of paper to the protesters.

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