About 50 people gathered by the courthouse steps Thursday to protest President Donald Trump’s forced resignation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

The group, which included Ohio University students and Athens residents, braved the cold to show support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign, which may come under fire under interim Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. 

Beth Clodfelter, Athens resident and organizer of the protest, said she hoped it would inspire people to take concrete action. 

“I’m just really hoping that this will motivate people to contact their senators and ask them to protect the Robert Mueller investigation,” Clodfelter said.

Whitaker has been openly critical of Mueller and his investigation, according to CNN. He had called Mueller’s appointment “ridiculous” and “a little fishy” on a radio show in 2017 before accepting his position at the Justice Department.

Following his appointment, Democrats have called on Whitaker to recuse himself from the investigation, as Sessions had during his time as attorney general. 

Many Democrats see it as potentially damaging to democracy, including Pat McGee, who has worked as an attorney in Athens since 1980. 

“How is the law different from a chess game? (In) a chess game they don’t change the rules,” McGee said. “What we are experiencing right now is a constant fluctuation of the rules.” 

The group chanted along with Mara Giglio, director of the Appalachian Peace and Justice network, and sang songs led by Heather Cantino, a member of the Athens Justice Choir. Clodfelter distributed cards with the phone numbers for Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown in the hopes that attendees would call to express their concern. 

Kayla Collins, a freshman studying photojournalism, had other advice for enacting change. 

“We need a lot more voters, too,” Collins said. “Young people, (people) my age … they need to actually take initiative and get out there and do something or else we’re going to be ran by a bunch of old people.” 

Protests like the one in Athens were also held across the country Thursday. 

“If you really think about the fact that this is happening all over the country, that’s what’s really important,” McGee said. “Ultimately, any kind of government rises or falls based upon the extent that citizens are willing to get involved.”



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