About 20 people protested President Donald Trump's recent appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general in Portola Valley on Thursday evening (Nov. 8).
The protest, which took place in a workout studio at the corner of Alpine and Portola roads, was one of hundreds of protests held across the country on Thursday. Nearly 800 people rallied outside U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo's Palo Alto office and at Palo Alto City Hall.
Trump announced Whitaker's appointment after firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday, Nov. 7. Whitaker now oversees the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents to influence the 2016 election.
Many are concerned that Whitaker will not recuse himself from the Mueller investigation like Sessions did. Whitaker, speaking as a commentator on CNN in 2017, warned that Mueller's examination of Trump's finances could create the impression that the investigation is a "political fishing expedition," according to the Washington Post.
The Sheriff's Office was also concerned about the protest. An alert, issued at 5:11 p.m. Thursday, led with the heading "Possible Anti Trump Rally - Portola Valley" and noted that the Sheriff's Office "will be on standby for possible anti Trump rally in Portola Valley as a precaution for the safety of the community."
The Sheriff's Office has not yet responded to questions and a request for comment on the protest.
Attendees led chants during the protest, said organizer and local resident Michealene Cristini Risley, including two children who led the chant, "Matt Whitaker -- heck naw -- Trump is not above the law." Sheriff's deputies "were parked right outside," she said.
"Everyone (at the protest) was concerned about what was happening and how it felt like so many Americans were unaware of what is happening," Cristini Risley said in an email.
Their principal concern was that the Mueller investigation "needed to be finished and presented," Cristini Risley said. "There was a lot of concern that there were sealed documents and that we may never know what is in them. There is concern that our president and the leaders in DC, will stop the investigation."
The topics of conversation included "the constitutional crisis we are in," how important it is for Americans "to realize what is going on and STAND UP," and why organizations such as Common Cause, Indivisible and MoveOn.org which coordinated Thursday's protests have activated a network they are calling "Nobody Is Above the Law," Cristini Risley wrote.
"Nobody Is Above the Law" demands that "Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation," according to the group's website.
In making its case for the protests, the network accused Trump of having crossed "a red line" with Whitaker's appointment, adding that Whitaker "has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it."