Demonstrators gather outside White House to protest Sessions's ouster

Demonstrators gather outside White House to protest Sessions's ouster
© WUSA9

A group of demonstrators gathered outside the White House on Wednesday night to protest Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' Acting AG Whitaker's wife defends him in lengthy email to journalist Watchdog: Thousands more migrant children separated from parents than previously known MORE's resignation at President TrumpDonald John TrumpBuzzFeed stands by Cohen report: Mueller should 'make clear what he's disputing' Shutdown puts dozens of federal transportation safety probes on hold Howard Schultz advisers exploring possible 2020 independent bid: report MORE’s request.

Footage from local CBS News affiliate WUSA9 showed protesters spelling out "Protect Mueller" in neon letters in front of the White House late Wednesday evening. Others held signs which included messages such as, "Trump is a dictraitor."

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The protests came just hours after Sessions submitted his formal resignation at Trump's request. Trump announced on Twitter that Matthew Whitaker, Sessions's chief of staff, would take over as acting attorney general. 

Sessions's dismissal drew swift backlash from Democratic lawmakers, many of whom voiced concerns about what his resignation as the top Justice Department official could mean for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Whitaker, who has publicly criticized certain elements of the investigation, will now oversee it.

"The Acting Attorney General is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice," DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement to The Hill.

The move means that Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay Rosenstein5 myths about William Barr William Barr's only 'flaw' is that he was nominated by Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress MORE will no longer oversee the federal Russia investigation, which he has supervised since Sessions recused himself early last year, citing his work on Trump's campaign.

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump cancels delegation's trip to Davos amid shutdown Trump fires back at Pelosi, cancels her foreign travel FISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased MORE (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, responded to the news by saying that Mueller's probe is in "new and immediate peril." Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is set to become the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said that Americans "must have answers immediately" on why Sessions resigned. 

Trump has repeatedly called the Mueller probe a "witch hunt," an expression which Whitaker himself has echoed.

The president on Wednesday said he could fire everybody with ties to the special counsel's office. He added that he would not take that step because of political reasons.

“I could fire everybody right now, but I don’t want to stop it because politically I don’t like stopping it,” Trump said. “It’s a disgrace. It should never have been started, because there is no crime.”

Another demonstration, organized by groups connected with the Nobody Is Above the Law network, is planned to take place on Thursday outside the White House. 

"Donald Trump just crossed a red line, violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up," the group says in a statement on its website.

"We're mobilizing immediately to demand accountability, because Trump is not above the law."

Hundreds of groups planned to protest at 5 p.m. Thursday, according to the group's website.

The Hill has reached out to the group for comment.