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More than 100 residents took to the sidewalk outside the Benton County Courthouse on a chilly Thursday night to rally in support of the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller.

President Donald Trump abruptly altered the chain of command above Mueller on Wednesday, relieving Attorney General Jeff Sessions of his position and putting his work under the supervision of Matthew Whitaker, a Republican loyalist. Whitaker has been openly skeptical of the special counsel's authority and has mused about ways to curtail his power as Mueller investigates Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible involvement by Trump administration figures.

The festive group of protesters gathered on the east side of the courthouse, facing Fourth Street, on the same turf that also has been occupied by antiwar protesters for more than 15 years.

The Mueller protesters carried American flags and signs with titles such as “No one is above the law.” “Protect Mueller” and “Honk if you love democracy.”

Group members chanted “justice now,” and “freedom of the press” and “the people united will never be divided,” whooping it up when passing motorists honked in support.

“We’re out here because we recognize that Donald Trump is obstructing justice once again,” said Tina Empol, who was carrying a pair of signs. “The person he replaced Sessions with is a total Trump toady. The people that are down here are afraid that we are not going to see what the evidence was because Trump will bury it.”

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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