“Lock him up!”
Protesters gathered outside the Justice Department to demand that Attorney General Jeff Sessions resign or recuse himself midday Thursday, barely a day after revelations about his contact with Russian diplomats publicly broke.
A flash protest action was organized by progressive activist collectives MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress, with about one hundred people gathering just outside the looming metal doors to the Justice Department on Pennsylvania Avenue early Thursday. Their message: “Perjury is a crime, Sessions resign” - and, in a co-opting of anti-Clinton messaging at Trump rallies, “lock him up.”
“We are experiencing a coup orchestrated by Vladimir Putin, executed by Donald Trump, and abetted by the Grand Old Party.”
That was Robin Goree, who, as a retired Virginia attorney, had more than just a few strong words for the government’s embattled chief lawyer.
“I took the same oath that Jeff Sessions took,” Goree said, “but I followed that oath. He’s betrayed his oath of office, he shouldn’t even be allowed to be an attorney.”
Sessions initially faced criticism during his confirmation process for his past record on civil and voting rights during his time as a district attorney in Alabama. A report published by the Washington Post on Tuesday, however, reveals undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador which echo a recent controversy regarding Trump’s labor nominee Andrew Puzder - who ultimately withdrew from consideration under mounting public pressure.
Sessions now faces similar calls, mainly from Democratic members of Congress, to either resign or recuse himself from an investigation of allegations surrounding Russian collusion with Trump’s campaign.
Over the course of about an hour, representatives from MoveOn, the Center for American Progress, and several members of Congress spoke to those gathered as the story still unfolded -- clearly the latest obstacle for a troubled administration.
For Marione Ingram, a Holocaust survivor, Sessions represents a familiar, sinister undercurrent in American society.
“I understand what fascism is, I have lived in it,” Ingram said, “I watched my family being murdered. I see a government that is using tactics that fascists use - oppression of people, vilifying, scapegoating lying, restriction of the press, voter suppression.”
Sessions’ record in the Senate and as an attorney in Alabama, she added, stands as proof of his intention to undermine the human values that form a vital pillar of American society.
“The fact is that we have an Attorney General who is racist, is sexist, and a homophobe who, as a senator, not once voted in favor for anything that benefits human beings,” Ingram said. “When they say ‘Make America Great Again,’ what they want to do is go back to an era when lynching blacks was the norm.”
As of press time, Sessions is scheduled to deliver remarks at the Justice Department. President Trump told press he continues to have “total” confidence in Sessions despite these revelations.