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Lawmakers join protest outside White House amid Russia fallout

By
Susan McFarland
Protesters hold candles, lights and cellphones Wednesday night at a vigil 'to demand democracy' and confront corruption outside the White House. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE
Protesters hold candles, lights and cellphones Wednesday night at a vigil 'to demand democracy' and "confront corruption" outside the White House. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE

July 19 (UPI) -- Democratic lawmakers joined activists in front of the White House late Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to protest President Donald Trump's summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The event, which also voiced support for special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, was the third straight night of protests -- and came two days after Trump appeared to side with Putin on the issue of Russian electoral meddling at Monday's summit in Helsinki.

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The president drew criticisms from both parties for indicating he accepted Putin's denial that the Kremlin attempt to sway the 2016 U.S. vote.

"Welcome defenders of democracy; you are a beautiful sight!" said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., at the rally. "Mr. President, why will you not protect our democracy?"

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The vigil was one of about 200 protests around the United States organized by liberal groups, aimed at the Russian controversy.

Speakers outside the White House also criticized Trump and congressional Republicans for the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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"Here's the situation: the president is trying to print himself a 'get out of jail free' card. Are we gonna let him have that card?" asked Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., referring to a law review article Kavanaugh wrote that implied sitting presidents cannot be indicted. "Hell no, we're not!"

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Another focus by Democratic lawmakers at the event was urging people to vote in the November midterms.

The day after the Finland summit, Trump said he misspoke at the news conference and indicated he does believe Russia interfered in 2016. He again stirred outcry by appearing to say later he didn't think Russia was continuing to meddle in U.S. affairs. Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday, though, that's not what the president meant.

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