Hundreds gather in Catonsville to rally in support of Mueller's investigation

About 200 people gathered outside the Catonsville Fire Station on Frederick Road Thursday, rallying in support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and protesting President Donald Trump’s actions related to it.

American flags, cars honking in support and chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go” punctuated the protest, which was organized in opposition to President Trump’s removal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which many say puts the special counsel’s investigation at risk.

The protest in Catonsville was part of a nationwide movement, organized by MoveOn, a progressive public policy advocacy group. About a year ago, MoveOn organized what it called “rapid response” protests that could mobilize in the event that Mueller was fired or his investigation into the 2016 election was otherwise stymied.

The organization declared Wednesday night that the removal of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General put the independence of the investigation at risk. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has been placed in charge of the investigation over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Whitaker has previously said Mueller’s investigation has gone too far.

Susan Radke, 62, is an organizer with The Catonsville Indivisibles, a progressive organizing group. Radke, who helped organized Thursday’s protest and rally, said it was important for people everywhere to organize and protest.

Radke said she’s concerned Trump will use Whitaker to end Mueller’s investigation prematurely, which she and other protestors said would be a “threat to our democracy.”

“No one is above the law,” Radke said.

More than 900 protests were organized nationwide, according to MoveOn. That included events in Towson, Catonsville, Baltimore, Frederick and Annapolis.

County Councilman Tom Quirk, a Democrat who represents Catonsville, usually considers himself a moderate — but he attended the rally, and said doing so was above party politics.

“I think it’s the party of Donald Trump. I think he’s a nationalist. And I think he’s a little dangerous when he’s going after the press, minorities, and stirring up hate and division,” Quirk said. “What’s happening at the national level is very dangerous.”

Quirk said he doesn’t think Trump truly understands the importance of checks and balances in U.S. government.

Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler and County Council Chairman Julian Jones also attended the rally and stated their support for the organizers who they said were standing up for democracy.

Jones said it scared him that many people across the country don’t see Trump’s actions as “a threat to democracy.” Mohler said it was important for people to organize and to protest all across the country, including in small communities like Catonsville.

“This is what democracy looks like,” Mohler said.

Mueller was appointed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in May 2017, after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey and Sessions recused himself from any investigations dealing with Russia and the 2016 election.

Tyrone Scales, 33, said he was protesting because he wants a “proper running of the government” and for those in power to be held accountable.

“It’s important for people to be protesting everywhere to show solidarity,” he said.

Retired nurse Cheryl Ludwig, 70, said it’s important for people to protest “anywhere and everywhere.”

“The rule of law is being threatened and tossed aside,” because of Trump’s actions, Ludwig said.

And it wasn’t just liberals, progressives and Democrats at the rally. Matt Geisler, a registered Republican, attended the rally. And, he said, he did not vote for Republicans at the federal level in this week’s election.

“I don’t like the way Trump is doing things. Everybody needs to be held accountable,” Geisler said. “I was hoping for Democrats to get the House.”

The ongoing investigation has so far resulted in dozens of indictments, convictions and guilty pleas, including from Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.

The protesters gathered on Frederick Road in Catonsville, outside of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district office. Cummings is poised to chair the House Oversight Committee when Democrats take control of the House in January following the midterm elections.

Cummings said in a statement that the Department of Justice must “safeguar[d] the integrity of the Mueller investigation.” Cummings also spoke Thursday night at a rally in Baltimore.

cboteler@baltsun.com

twitter.com/codyboteler

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