Demonstrators implore Rep. Erik Paulsen to protect Mueller investigation

Demonstrators call on Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen to protect the Mueller investigation Aug. 23 in Eden Prairie. (Sun Current staff photo by Sean Miner)

Approximately 50 demonstrators called on Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) on Aug. 23 to support Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 general election. (Sun Current staff photo by Sean Miner)[/caption]Approximately 50 people assembled in Eden Prairie Aug. 23, bearing signs and occasionally chanting, to call on Third District Rep. Erik Paulsen to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 general election.

Meeting near Paulsen’s office in Eden Prairie, the demonstrators mostly stood at the intersection of Prairie Center Drive and West 78th Street, near Eden Prairie Center. The protest was organized by Mound resident Denise Knights, who described protecting Mueller’s investigation as a bipartisan issue.

“I’ve been knocking on doors in my district since April, about three days a week, two hours a night, just talking to neighbors, because I felt like we were so divisive,” said Knights. “We’re all neighbors, and we all want the same things, and one of the things I kept hearing over and over again from people was that they’re scared. The Mueller investigation is the most important thing we need to keep our eye on.

“[The investigation] is a bipartisan issue,” added Knights. “It’s an American issue.”

Knights identifies as a Democrat, though she noted that she was raised as a conservative. She characterized the investigation as an effort to uncover the truth, rather than a political witch hunt, as the president has characterized it.

“I’m not a Russia expert,” said Knights. “I’m not a corruption expert. I don’t know where this investigation is going to lead, but I do want to know where it goes. If Trump is exonerated – great – but we, the people, deserve to know.”

Paulsen has expressed support for the Mueller probe on the same grounds, having called for an independent counsel before Mueller’s appointment. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have proposed bills to insulate Mueller’s office from outside interference, though no legislation to that effect has advanced to a vote.

However, days after the protest, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) put forward an amendment to a government spending package that would cut off funding for the probe six months after the legislation’s passage, as well as limit the scope of the investigation.

Thus far, Paulsen has yet to publicly support legislation in either direction.

Knights stressed the significance of the investigation, but also suggested that petitioning her representative to take action on bipartisan issues could be a positive step toward closing the partisan gap in politics, at state and national levels.

“I wanted to be able to connect with my Republican neighbors, my Trump supporter neighbors, and go back to Minnesotans first,” said Knights.

She said that she was encouraged that her demonstration drew the crowd it did.

“I just said, ‘Pick a day. Pick a time, and if it’s just me with a sign, here we are,’” said Knights. “Obviously, this is important to other people, because we’re here.”