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 SessionsTrump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs Ocasio-Cortez, Velázquez call for convention to decide Puerto Rico status White House officials voted by show of hands on 2018 family separations: report MORE's resignation at President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy 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 (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 RosensteinDOJ kept investigators from completing probe of Trump ties to Russia: report Five takeaways from final Senate Intel Russia report FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book 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 SchiffTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies 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.