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 SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE's resignation at President TrumpDonald TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 RosensteinWashington still needs more transparency House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week 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 SchiffHouse erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Lobbying world 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.