More than 75 people gathered Thursday evening in Courthouse Square in downtown Sonora to show their support for the Robert Mueller investigation of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians before Donald J. Trump’s 2016 election as the nation’s 45th president.
Arlene Weissman, 74, said she drove over to Sonora from San Andreas because “this is critical to our democracy. We have an incipient dictatorship taking press passes from reporters if you ask questions Trump doesn’t like.”
Like many others at the rally, she held a hand-scrawled sign, and hers said, “Protect Mueller Investigation.”
The driver of a black pickup caught in the evening gridlock on Washington Street yelled out, “Go Trump! Hey! Go Trump!” Other motorists honked their horns in support of the demonstrators, and one driver leaned on the horn several seconds, prompting loud cheers and whoops from the demonstrators.
At least one person was there to observe only, and he declined to say if he was with the demonstrators or opposed to them.
Julie Gorgas, 35, of Sonora, held a sign that said, “If Obama did any of this, you would be standing with us!”
Earlier, Gorgas said she helped organize the demonstration in unity with Indivisible, local groups around the nation that try to advance progressive causes.
Similar rallies were staged Thursday in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other communities.
“We’re here because Trump had Jeff Sessions resign the other day,” Gorgas said. “That removed Rosenstein’s control of the Mueller investigation, and we’re trying to protect Mueller. The new acting attorney general has said publicly the investigation into whether there was collusion should stop. And he has said it can be stopped by defunding it.”
Gorgas said the demonstration was also intended to stand up for freedom of the press, in response to the Trump administration’s banning CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House.
“That violates the First Amendment,” Gorgas said.
Reached by phone before the demonstration, Charlotte Frazier, who chairs the Tuolumne County Republican Central Committee, said she isn’t surprised Trump has parted ways with Sessions.
“They’ve had a troubled relationship for a long time,” Frazier said. “I’d like to have seen that departure not so difficult, but he’s certainly within his authority to do that. … Do I think that’s what the president is going to do? I don’t really think so, but I understand the concern that it’s been discussed and rallied about for quite some time. I don’t think he should bother the Mueller investigation at all.”
Also reached by phone before the Courthouse Square demonstration, Dave Titchenal, president of the Tuolumne County State of Jefferson chapter, said he thinks there’s nothing untoward about Trump asking for Sessions to resign.
“He wanted to do it a long time ago but waited until after the midterms,” Titchenal said of Trump. “Anyone serves at the president’s pleasure. It is possible the next guy stepping in will do something to the Mueller investigation, but I don’t think that would be the right thing to do politically.”
Union Democrat reporter Alex MacLean contributed to this report.
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