LIMA — As the sun set and temperatures dropped, about 30 left-leaning locals stood in Lima’s Town Square Thursday to protest what could be argued as one of the more influential dismissals initiated by President Donald Trump — the firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Organized locally through Allen & Hardin for Election Action & Democracy, or AHEAD, the rally was a solid showing for Democrats in the deep red county, and while the region may not be able to field thousands of Democratic protesters like major metro areas, Sessions’ removal was enough of a motivator for individuals from multiple counties to come and make their voices heard on the issue, rally organizer Beth Sutton-Ramspeck said.
“I really think lawyers on the Republican side are just as concerned as lawyers on the Democratic side,” Sutton-Ramspeck said. “This is the Constitution we’re talking about.”
The firing of Jeff Sessions is just the latest in a series of moves by Trump to discredit the Russia investigation, which he has labeled a “witch hunt” led by “13 Angry Democrats.” While Trump’s initial public statements of Sessions were mostly glowing reviews of the longtime Republican, the president began to publicly deride the former senator for recusing himself from the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else,” Trump told the New York Times in July 2017.
“We all know what is going on here,” Jim Bode, one of the rally’s protesters, said. “Trump is rightfully frightened of what Mueller knows and can prove.”
Dr. Perry Bush, a history professor at Bluffton University, compared Sessions’ firing to similar actions undertaken by President Richard Nixon in 1973 when he began to dismiss justice department officials for investigating the Watergate scandal.
“History never repeats itself,” Bush said. ” But at times, it seems to run in parallels.”
Allen and Hardin county Democrats weren’t the only ones protesting Sessions’ removal in the country Thursday evening. Similar rallies were planned throughout the United States after news of the attorney general’s dismissal broke Wednesday, the day after the midterm election.
Sutton-Ramspeck said the national organization that called for the protests, MoveOn, had originally been ready to rally crowds against the potential firing of Mueller under the night’s theme of “No one is above the law,” but that changed when protesters learned that Sessions had left his position instead, thereby setting off what Bush called a potential “constitutional crisis.”
“There are more Democrats around here than people realize,” Sutton-Ramspeck said. “I think, from talking to people, they’re afraid to be public about their views, they’re afraid to come out of the closet. It can be bad for business.
“We’re here to support the Constitution. It’s nothing radical to be about the rule of law. They call us mobs. We just believe in the Constitution.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.