More than a thousand people gathered near the Washington Monument Saturday to rally at the March for Truth, calling for an independent investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Organizers also used the occasion to celebrate the “resistance” movement against the Trump administration, and implored the crowd to stay involved for the long haul.
“We gotta keep up the fight, that’s all there is to it,” said Jon Lovett, a former President Obama speechwriter and popular podcast host, who spoke at the D.C. rally.
Thousands more protested in more than 100 cities across the country, including New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago.
The chants at the D.C. march were clever and cumbersome, taking wonky and specific aim at what the protesters believe have been White House attempts to cover up its connections with the Russian government.
“The Rosenstein memo was phony, we want testimony from Comey!” the protestors chanted, criticizing President Trump decision to fire the director of the FBI after receiving a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“That firing was abrupt, what are you covering up?” another chant went.
Most people at the March for Truth in Washington traveled from D.C. and the surrounding suburbs, but a handful made an overnight trek from farther states.
“I wanted to be part of the crowd, to make it larger and make a statement,” said Odell Buggs, a 53-year-old small business owner who traveled from Rochester New York with her two sisters. She also drove to nation’s capital for the Women’s March, Tax March and Climate March. “Because if you make a statement in D.C., you make a statement to the whole country.”
Earlier in the day, a much smaller counter protest in support of Trump unfolded in front of the White House, where dozens gathered to applaud the president’s controversial decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate agreement.
The organizers of that rally —the Fairfax County GOP and the Republican Party of Virginia —dubbed the gathering the “Pittsburgh not Paris” rally, borrowing a line from Trump’s speech on Thursday announcing the withdrawal in which he said, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris.”
Rally goers carried red and white “Make America Great” and blue and white “Promises Made Promises Kept” signs.
Bert Gagnon, a retired NASA employee from Mechanicsville, Md., said he came to Lafayette Square to show support for Trump. He said he’d do the same if Obama was still in office. There’s too much partisanship, he said, adding that what matters is putting America first.
He agreed with Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the climate agreement saying the country’s leaders need to focus more on problems at home – like the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. He agrees that the world is warming, but that it’s not man, but nature that’s affecting the weather
Christi Branch, from Waynesboro, Va., said she made the last minute trip to the nation’s capital to show her support for Trump. “I’m just wanted to be here to support my president and the promises made and the promises he kept,” she said.
Nearby another group gathered to blast Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accord. Speakers urged attendees not to be discouraged by the president’s decision, urging them to stay active and even consider running for office. One gentleman carried a sign that said “Pittsburgh and Paris.”
But it was the March for Truth that drew the biggest crowds of the day. In addition to Lovett, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md) and activist Linda Sarsour were also among the speakers. The participants carried signs that called for Trump’s impeachment and depicted Trump as a puppet being controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Other signs were more cheeky, including one that said “Super Callous Fascist Racist Extra Braggadocious.”
In his speech, Raskin listed some of Trump’s advisors and staffers —Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Michael Flynn —and detailed their alleged connections to Russia.
“We don’t know all the facts yet, but we know this much,” Raskin said. “Donald Trump has a staff infection and it’s spreading everyday.”
Sarsour said she agreed with the call for an impartial investigation into alleged Russian connections, but implored the protesters not to let Russia distract them from other issues like healthcare and civil rights.
“The people are woke, we are woke,” said Sarsour, a co-chair of the massive Women’s March that was held on the Mall the day after Trump’s inauguration. “We will not go back to sleep.”
For many in the crowd, this was just the latest in a string of anti-Trump protests to unfold on the National Mall. Protesters said they have attended every big protest since Trump’s election —the Women’s March, Tax March, March for Science and more —and have no plans on stopping.
“I’ve been outraged ever since the election,” said Lee Adams, a retired 69 year-old Bethesda resident who has been to multiple protests in 2017 and carried a sign that said “Nasty men and women won’t quit until Trump does” on one side.
“The fact that this man could be president for four years scares me to death,” he said.