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Nation & World

Hundreds gather, march in Federal Plaza after firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Hundreds gather, march in Federal Plaza after firing

Hundreds of people gathered Thursday evening at Federal Plaza in Chicago protesting the replacement of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“The president wanted to take action as quickly as possible in the [Robert] Mueller investigation,’’ said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, who made remarks shortly after the event began about 5 p.m. in the Loop.

A staff member for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, read a statement decrying Sessions but saying the replacement is a move to undercut the Mueller investigation.

Shortly before 6 p.m., the crowd marched to Trump Tower, 401 N. Wabash Ave.

Earlier, the crowd swelled quickly to hundreds near a large Trump “baby’’ balloon as Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” played.

The protests come a day after President Trump fired Sessions, who he has long blamed for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference in his campaign.

Trump named Matthew Whitaker, a longtime critic of the investigation, as acting attorney general, prompting an outcry from Democrats and a handful of Senate Republicans who fear Whitaker will try to interfere with the probe being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Several of the groups involved in Thursday evening’s protests have long been planning what they call “rapid response” protests if Trump tried to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in elections.

Whitaker is now taking over that role, despite calls that he recuse himself because of past comments critical of the investigation.

Whitaker also once worked as chairman of Sam Clovis’ failed campaign for Iowa state treasurer in 2014. Clovis had run for the Senate as well and later worked on Trump’s presidential campaign. He has been interviewed as part of Mueller’s probe.

As Mueller’s new boss, Whitaker has significant power to hobble or even halt the investigation that Trump has long called a “witch hunt.” Mueller is probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, whether Trump or any of his associates conspired in the meddling and whether Trump obstructed justice.

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