About two dozen protesters marched along the sidewalks of Sherman’s courthouse square Thursday in protest of the resignation of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Members of the protest chanted slogans including, “Justice can’t be trumped,” voicing their concern over the future of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sessions announced Wednesday afternoon that he would be resigning as Attorney General at the request of President Donald Trump. Later in the afternoon, the president announced that Matthew G. Whitaker, who served as chief of staff to Sessions, would serve as acting attorney general until a permanent replacement could be nominated.
“Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as attorney general of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Justice every day determined to do my duty and serve my country,” Sessions said in his letter of resignation. “I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice.”
The protest in Sherman was one of many held throughout the country and organized by progressive advocacy group MoveOn. Local protest organizer Paul Jordan said the protest was in response to repeated attempts by the Trump administration to hinder or stall the investigation since it began in 2017.
“This is basically just our protest making sure the rest of the country knows that the rule of law still has meaning here in the country and justice will be served,” Jordan said. “We invite everyone else who is frustrated by the process that is going on right now to join us.”
Grayson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Tony Bennie said sheriff’s office personnel were on site at the protest to protect the county’s property and the people. He said it is the department’s practice to do so when officials hear there will be a large gathering of people. Bennie said deputies never know if there will be counter-protesters or not and they want to be available in case someone needs to step in and make sure such groups give each other plenty of space.
He said the SO was not there to keep anyone from exercising their First Amendment rights.
“The courthouse,” he said, “was open for business.” However, he added, that the commander at the scene did tell protestors that they could not take their protest inside the building, “to disrupt business” in there.”
The resignation of Sessions marks the latest chapter in a tense relationship between Sessions and the president. Early on in the investigation, Sessions, acting as the head of the Department of Justice, recused himself from any involvement in the case. This, in turn, sparked harsh and repeated criticism from the president.
However, on Thursday Trump tweeted his thanks to Sessions for his nearly two years of service.
“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”
Jan Fletcher, event coordinator for the Grayson County Democratic Party, said she was happy with the turnout despite the short notice and cool weather.
“I think the people will have something to say,” she said. “If he does something big, I think that will be the last nail in the coffin.”