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Nationwide protests planned if Trump fires Mueller or Rosenstein

Reuters logo Reuters 4/11/2018 Andrew Hay

Donald J. Trump, Robert Mueller are posing for a picture © Provided by Green Bay Press-Gazette U.S. progressive groups are gearing up for nationwide protests should President Donald Trump fire the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, or replace the deputy U.S. attorney general overseeing the probe.

An ouster of Special Counsel Robert Mueller would signal that Trump was acting as if he was above the law, said MoveOn.org, which is planning 800 demonstrations across the country.

Every state will have at least one "Nobody Is Above The Law" rally and at least 320,000 people have pledged to attend so far, according to MoveOn's website.

Trump would also trigger protests if he fired Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is responsible for overseeing the Russia probe, or if Trump pardoned any of his associates who have been targeted in the investigation, such as Paul Manafort, a former Trump election campaign chairman who is facing two indictments in different federal courts brought by Mueller, MoveOn said.

Trump has been critical of the Mueller investigation, calling it a "witch hunt". He threatened to fire Mueller after the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the offices of Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday, based partly on a referral by the special counsel.

Other groups behind the planned protests include Friends of the Earth, the American Federation of Teachers, and veterans organizations, MoveOn said.

"If Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller, it will create a constitutional crisis," said MoveOn, which recently supported the March For Our Lives gun control protest in Washington.

The White House said on Tuesday that Trump "believes he has the power" to fire Mueller, who has widened his probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

Russia has denied that it meddled in the election, and Trump has said there was no collusion between his campaign and Russia.

Firing Mueller or Rosenstein would be akin to President Richard Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" in which he ousted a number of officials investigating the Watergate scandal, said MoveOn campaign director David Sievers.

MoveOn has called for Trump's impeachment and is urging U.S. lawmakers to consider taking that step in the event the president fires officials involved in the Russia probe, Sievers said in a telephone interview.

A bipartisan group of senators is expected to introduce legislation on Wednesday to protect the office of the special counsel. (Reporting By Andrew Hay in New Mexico Editing by Frank McGurty and David Gregorio)

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