Pittsburgh police ordered its detectives to bring riot gear to work Thursday in anticipation of protests should President Donald Trump fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Police Cmdr. Victor Joseph reportedly sent an email Wednesday, instructing Major Crimes detectives to bring full uniforms and riot gear to work “until further notice.”
In the internal memo obtained by local media, Joseph said “there is a belief” Mueller may be fired, and “large-scale” protests are expected in the central business district within 24 hours if it happens.
“The protest would be semi-spontaneous and more than likely happen on short notice,” the memo said. “Based on this information, beginning tomorrow, April 19, 2018, all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice.”
Mueller is investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. The President has described the allegations as a hoax created by Democrats after their loss in the election.
Preparation is a precaution
Pittsburgh police declined to comment further. CNN has not independently obtained a copy of the memo.
In a statement, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said the city’s police officials evaluate and prepare for such situations as a precaution.
“We receive information regularly about potential events and/or threats, assess the credibility of the information and plan for a potential event,” Hissrich said.
“In this case, we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President’s decision-making process.”
A group has called for a “Nobody is Above the Law” rally in Pittsburgh if Mueller gets fired, but it’s unclear whether the police response is based on that.
“We are getting ready in Pittsburgh to respond quickly and forcefully to a clear obstruction of justice,” the group says online. It says simultaneous emergency rallies are planned nationwide.
Trump: ‘They’re still here’
Trump on Wednesday downplayed speculation that he’s planning to fire Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation.
“They’ve been saying I’m going to get rid of them for the last three months, four months, five months and they’re still here,” the President told reporters.
Speculation on Mueller’s fate grew after the FBI raided the house, office and hotel room of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, last week.
Since then, the President has openly mulled whether to fire Mueller and repeated his attack on the special counsel’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” Trump is also considering axing Rosenstein as a way to limit Mueller’s investigation, multiple people familiar with the discussions told CNN.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters last week that Trump believes he has the power to fire Mueller.
Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, inherited the oversight of the special counsel’s probe into Russia and any potential links it had with Trump campaign associates.
His boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself from investigating matters related to the presidential campaign.