November 8, 2018 / 9:03 AM / 6 days ago

Activists call for nationwide protests to protect Mueller investigation

FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after briefing the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on his investigation of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein -/File Photo

ATLANTA (Reuters) - U.S. progressive groups will stage hundreds of protests nationwide on Thursday to demand that President Donald Trump do nothing to hinder an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling to help him win the 2016 U.S. election.

The protests, operating under the banner “Nobody is Above the Law” and led by the activist group MoveOn, called for people to gather in cities at 5 p.m. on Thursday in an effort to protect the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The action was spurred by Trump’s move on Wednesday to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general. Sessions had recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation, while Whitaker has called for it to be scaled down.

Trump announced the move the day after a Congressional election that saw his Republicans lose control of the House of Representatives but gain seats in the Senate.

“Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel’s Trump-Russia investigation,” MoveOn said on its website. It pledged that at least one rally would be held in each state.

Mueller has indicted a number of Russian individuals and firms for meddling in the election to help Trump win, and is investigating whether anyone on the Trump campaign collaborated with them. Trump denies collusion and calls the investigation a partisan witch hunt.

The Justice Department is separately investigating payments that were made during the campaign to women who said they had affairs with Trump to bar them from speaking.

Sessions has long drawn Trump’s ire for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Peter Graff

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