Five protests were held across San Diego and southwestern Riverside counties on Thursday as part of a national day of protestsc to prevent President Donald Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller or interfering with the Russia investigation.
The “Nobody is Above the Law” protests were organized by a variety of San Diego activists groups in conjunction with MoveOn.org in response to the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the appointment of Matt Whitaker as his replacement.
“We think no one is above the law,” said Angela de Joseph of Indivisible Watu, one of the organizers of the protest in Downtown. “We think what happened today — firing Sessions, bringing a crony — is obviously taking the steps to shut down the Mueller investigation.”
Whitaker has publicly criticized the Mueller investigation into the Russian interference into the 2016 Presidential election, saying it was outside the scope of the special prosecutor’s office.
Before joining the Justice Department, he publicly outlined ways in which the Attorney General could stymie the investigation.
Congressional Democrats have already called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation. So far that has been the job of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller.
“We need bi-partisans legislations to protect the Special Counsel, to protect the constitution,” Democratic Congressman-elect Mike Levin said. “And it has nothing to do with anything other than what it means to be a democracy and what it means to be an American.”
The nationwide protests were scheduled for 5 p.m. local time nationwide. Locally, the protests were held Downtown San Diego, Escondido, Carlsbad, Ramona and Temecula.
The protesters were demanding Whitaker to recuse himself and not take any part to oversee the investigation.
“This is not just a bunch of radical liberals out here," said Joel Day, a professor of peace study at the University of San Diego. "There’s Republicans, there’s Independents because we have one thing in common and that is we respect the rule of law. And we think it’s time for the Trump Administration and President Trump to also respect the rule of law.”
The ongoing investigation has produced guilty pleas from four former Trump aides. Day said in all 30 people have already either pleaded guilty or convicted of meddling with the 2016 election.
"We have two people that have already been found lying under oath and lying on their background checks once," he said. "There is a lot more there and we need to continue that."
Thursday afternoon, Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake announced on Twitter that he and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons are calling for a vote on a bill to protect the Mueller investigation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill in April. It would give special counsels a 10-day window to seek review of a firing.
Protesters say they will continue to make their voice heard to protect the special counsel.
"It’s not a Republican issue. It’s not a Democratic issue. This is an American issue because we are founded on the rule of law,” Day said.
— NBC 7 reporter Alex Presha and The Associated Press contributed to this report.