Two days after the 2018 mid-term elections, on Thursday, November 8, local Democrats and independents, many tied to the weekly Vigil for Democracy demonstrations in Front Royal against the actions and agenda of President Donald J. Trump, joined people nationwide in demonstrations in support of the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Front Royal was one of over 900 localities where demonstrations dubbed “Nobody is Above the Law – Mueller Protection Rapid Response” formed at 5 p.m. local times across the nation. Here Vigil for Democracy organizer Len Sherp, who has led weekly gatherings in protest of President Trump’s agenda since March 2017, led 25 people and Rusty the dog in a march from the Front Royal Town Gazebo to the South Royal Avenue side of the Warren County Courthouse.
While not permitted on such short notice, Sherp said he had informed town police of the planned demonstration and was told it could proceed as long as public right of ways were not blocked and normal foot or vehicular traffic was not interrupted.
“Hands off the Mueller probe, Trump is not above the law” local demonstrators chanted as they marched with American flags and signs expressing support of the Mueller investigation into foreign meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The group stopped in the shadow of the seat of justice in Front Royal and Warren County to repeat the chant for about 10 minutes to passing motorists on Royal Avenue before marching back down East Main Street to their Town Gazebo staging area. As they had walking westbound and during their stop at the courthouse, they again repeated the “Hands off the Mueller probe” manta eastbound through Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District.
We asked Sherp why the demonstrations under the auspices of MoveOn.org were called so soon after Trump forced the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions the day after the 2018 mid-term elections.
“We’re here because once again the president has demonstrated he has absolutely no fealty to the law, good government, and doesn’t care about anything except himself,” Sherp replied, adding, “The dismissal of Jeff Session within 24 hours of the results of the election, followed by the appointment of Matthew Whitaker who is completely unqualified for the job – not to mention is a partisan Trump loyalist who’s on record having dispute with some directions of the Mueller investigation; not to mention he laid out a blueprint on CNN on how to suffocate the Mueller investigation.”
The Whitaker blueprint Sherp mentioned was a Justice Department defunding of the Mueller probe.
Sherp said he sees three basic motivations for a long-anticipated Trump move against the attorney general, opening a path against the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling on his behalf during the 2016 campaign.
One is to eliminate the Mueller investigation before a Democratic majority is seated in the U.S. House of Representatives on or about January 6, 2019, with powers to subpoena Trump records and tax returns. Second is to distract from the result of the Tuesday mid-terms which Sherp described as “a repudiation of him as president”. And finally and most pointedly Sherp said, that after a pre-election hold on special counsel investigation actions, a new round of indictments is anticipated – potentially including Trump’s eldest son Donald Junior.
Vanity Fair magazine and The Daily Mail have reported that Donald Trump Jr. has told friends he fears he may soon be indicted for perjury connected to the Trump Tower campaign meeting with Russians. While Trump Junior’s attorney denies his client has made such statements, Vanity Fair has also reported that the president is “very depressed” about the prospect of his eldest son facing indictment for actions related to his campaign.
That depression, Sherp pointed out, could relate to the fact some sources have indicated that the president himself led discussion developing a “Russian adoptions” cover story for his son about the Trump Tower meeting overseen by Donald Junior. The adoptions cover story was allegedly developed during an Air Force One flight back from a European trip. Trump had been overseas when Donald Junior released emails related to setting up the Trump Tower meeting just before The New York Times was poised to release them.
The pre-Trump Tower communications indicated that Donald Junior initially believed information provided by a Russian attorney at the meeting would “incriminate Hillary” to which he replied enthusiastically “if it’s what you say I love it.”
The investigation thus far
Mueller is a former federal prosecutor and was FBI director under two presidents, George W. Bush who appointed him to a 10-year term, and Barack Obama who asked him to stay on until he appointed Comey in 2013.
Mueller was appointed as Special Counsel for the Russian election interference probe by Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein in May 2017. Upon his appointment as special prosecutor, Mueller was lauded from both sides of the political aisle as a man of unblemished integrity. Mueller has also been described as a lifelong Republican.
Mueller’s current appointment came amidst heavy pressure from both sides of the political aisle in the wake of the president’s firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey. Comey had been overseeing the FBI’s investigation into Russian efforts to impact the result of the 2016 presidential election in favor of Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Comey has stated that prior to his firing, the president asked for an oath of personal loyalty and that the FBI director back off any investigation of his then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Flynn is one of six former Trump aides or appointees who have since pled guilty or been convicted on charges related to the special counsel’s investigation into Russian electoral interference. Thus far Mueller’s investigation has resulted in 35 indictments, 32 against people, 26 of those Russian nationals, including 12 Russian GRU intelligence operatives, as well as 3 Russian companies.
In addition to Flynn (guilty plea), among those convicted or pleading guilty to charges stemming from the special prosecutor’s investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election include one-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort (convicted and guilty plea); Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos (guilty plea); Trump campaign aide Rick Gates (guilty plea); Republican operative and lobbyist Sam Patten (guilty plea); and Trump’s long-time personal attorney and so-called “fixer” Michael Cohen (guilty plea).
Most of those entering into plea arrangements with prosecutors are believed to have agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team regarding their knowledge of activities surrounding Russian contacts or information transfers designed to aid the Trump presidential campaign.
‘Big Victory’ or Real Problems?
While the president has publicly claimed a “Big Victory” and “Tremendous success” in the November 6 mid-term election, gains made nationwide by Democrats, particularly in gaining a decisive U.S. House of Representatives majority initially standing at 223-205 with estimates the Democratic majority could rise to as much as 230 seats, spells trouble for the president.
As Sherp noted, it is the U.S. House of Representatives majority party that controls committees with subpoena, not to mention impeachment, powers over the president. And Sherp is far from alone in seeing Trump’s “the day after” forced resignation of Attorney General Sessions and appointment of his avid loyalist Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General as the first step in a presidential effort to kill the Mueller investigation.
After Sessions recused himself from matters related to the Russia probe due to conflicts of interest involving his work for the Trump campaign and his own personal meetings with Russian officials in that capacity, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein inherited creation of and oversight of Mueller’s investigation.
Trump has repeatedly berated Sessions for his recusal, something legal experts say he had no choice but to do. The president’s ire has focused on his top administration law enforcement appointee taking himself out of a position to shield the president from potential legal consequences of the Russian investigation.
Acting Attorney General Whitaker appeared to audition for a job at the Trump Justice Department with television appearances and op-eds during which he termed the special prosecutor’s investigation a “witch hunt” and something that needed to be brought to a halt or defunded to the point it could no longer function. Whittaker also expressed a belief that broadening the Mueller investigation into the president’s personal or business finances would be “a violation” of the special prosecutor’s mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Now Trump has placed Whitaker in a position to act on those stated beliefs. A question for many is if Whitaker does act to kill or stymie the Mueller investigation will he simply be putting a period on a potential obstruction of justice charge against both himself and the president.
But with administration dominoes being put in place to move against Mueller, citizens across the country are not waiting for the hammer to drop. Like Len Sherp and 25 companions here, they are taking to the streets nationwide to show they will not take interference in or obstruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe lightly.
Congratulations to Warren County High School Seniors – Class of 2020
Royal Examiner presents the Warren County High School Class of 2020. Congratulations to these wonderful seniors on their hard work and deserved accomplishments! We wish you the best in your next big endeavors. Photos courtesy of the Victor O’Neill Studios.
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
“The highest result of education is tolerance.”
“The most important thing in your life is to live your life with integrity and to not give into peer pressure to try to be something that you’re not.”
“Graduation is not the end; it’s the beginning.”
—Senator Orrin Hatch
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.”
“There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.”
“Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”
“Every person you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”
—H Jackson Brown Jr.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
—Henry David Thoreau
“The most rewarding things in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.”
“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
—Vincent Van Gogh
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
“You have to dance a little bit before you step out into the world each day, because it changes the way you walk.”
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
“I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.”
Get busy living or get busy dying.”
“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”
“Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”
—William Arthur Ward
“Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”
It’s burned up – forget it: Call dad and tell him his truck is toast in Front Royal
Mid-afternoon, Thursday, June 25, a vehicle fire was reported in the parking lot of the commercial strip anchored by Anthony’s Pizza on the 100 block of South Royal Avenue. First responders from Warren County Fire & Rescue and the Front Royal Police Department found a pickup truck with West Virginia tags parked on the street side of the lot with an engine fire engaged and no occupants apparent.
This reporter arrived after the fire had been extinguished and only one town police unit remained at the scene. That officer pointed out a thick fluid trail that appeared to run from the 1993 Ford Ranger pickup through a portion of the parking lot, perhaps indicating a fluid leak as a source or consequence of the engine fire.
Our inquiry to responding agencies led to information from the FRPD Public Information Department’s Jessica Racer, who told us, “The incident was a vehicle fire, not arson and not suspicious in nature. The owner’s name is Roger Haines in Hampshire County (West Virginia).”
FRPD Captain Crystal Cline later told Royal Examiner that the truck’s owner was contacted by running the tags and requesting Hampshire County authorities to contact him. That route was required because apparently the truck’s driver and a passenger left the scene without ever making contact with local authorities, first responders, or potentially impacted businesses in the commercial strip.
Captain Cline reported that Mr. Haines “advised that the vehicle was not stolen, and he had given his daughter permission to drive the vehicle” and that he was “aware that the vehicle was broken down” and “had already contacted a towing company” about recovering it.
This scenario seems to confirm information from a witness to the vehicle fire who told a Royal Examiner source that the vehicle’s occupants, described as a man and woman, left the scene on foot without contacting responders about their connection to the vehicle. According to the witness, the pair left the truck cab locked as they exited it with the engine smoking before walking to the adjacent Jack Evans Chevrolet lot to watch at distance as responders arrived to extinguish the developing engine fire. Eventually, they left the scene on foot down South Royal Avenue without any apparent contact with authorities, the witness reported.
That’s a long hitchhike back to Hampshire County – no time to waste apparently.
Music park at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park ribbon cutting ceremony
On Friday, June 26, 2020, citizens, friends and family, Parks and Recreation Commission members, Warren County Board of Supervisors members, and County Administrator Doug Stanley gathered to welcome Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist’s generous gift to Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park.
This is Dr. Hultquist’s third music park donation to the Warren County park system. In 2017, Ms. Hultquist suggested the idea of adding a music park to one of the County’s facilities after visiting similar parks in Utah and Oregon, and the County celebrated the first music park addition at Rockland Park in November 2017. The following year, a second music park addition was built in Lions Park.
In late 2019, Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist donated the new Deluxe Collection music system to be installed at Burrell Brooks, Jr. Community Park. The mixed quartet offers a musical experience for all through a specially designed ensemble that delivers a variety of sound qualities and pitch ranges. The equipment is multi-generational, interactive, durable, and perfectly tuned. Everyone, regardless of age or ability, can play. Her generous support of the music parks will allow our community to enjoy the enrichment of music and will inspire future musicians.
At the ribbon cutting, long-time Warren County Parks and Recreation Commission member Ron Harvey provided a history of the Commission, recreation in the community, and how the generosity of the community has allowed the parks to flourish.
Board of Supervisors Vice Chair and South River District Supervisor Cheryl Cullers noted the importance of music in the development of children, who will now have the opportunity to enjoy this park and its new addition donated by Dr. Lorraine LeHew Hultquist. She added, “The addition of this music equipment to Burrell Brooks Park will, I believe, give the children of the community at an early age, access to music as an avenue to hopefully start a lifelong love of music, as well as to have the experience to exercise their own creative musical talents.”
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department is very grateful for Dr. Hultquist’s generous gifts to our local parks for the benefit of all citizens. County Administrator Doug Stanley, noting her previous donations, stated, “I would like to personally thank Lorraine for her kind and generous monetary gift for this magnificent music park for all of Warren County patrons to enjoy and for her support of the entire Parks and Recreation system. It is truly fitting that she is honored today for her gracious and kind gift!”
Three words: The test of liberty or tyranny
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Since 1776 when those words were written in the Declaration of Independence, the world has seen kings and tyrants who, fooling men with their sweet-sounding philosophies, tried to steal their rights and liberty, and many times succeeded.
Yet, in this famous sentence, Thomas Jefferson gives us three words that are the test for tyranny:
The Creator gives rights to men and women as a gift — an endowment — what the dictionary calls a ‘fund for permanent support.’ No man gives these rights to people, for these rights are already theirs. No king can decide which people get to exercise these rights because each person has been given the free gift of these permanent rights, not one more than another.
These obvious rights, given as a permanent gift from God, cannot be taken away by any person, and neither can a man surrender his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Town Talk: A conversation with Tim Ratigan – support our local law enforcement officers
In this Town Talk, our publisher Mike McCool speaks with Tim Ratigan. Tim has started a movement in our community to support our local law enforcement officers from the Front Royal Police Department and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Our local law enforcement officers serve to defend the freedom, fairness, and individual liberties that our forefathers fought and died. These brave men and women risk their lives every day to maintain a civil society and the rule of law.
On Friday evening, July 3rd, another group of community supporters are meeting at the Gazebo in Front Royal from 5 pm to 7:30 pm. Come show your appreciation, support, and respect for local Law Enforcement, Fire, and Emergency Personnel along with the flag of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! This is a free informal gathering for those interested in showing their support and to say thanks.
No frills, nothing more than thank you to those men and women who serve our community. You are free to wear a mask, practice distancing, bring “Old Glory” (lots of them), bring a lounge chair, sing the National Anthem, God Bless America, etc, stroll along Main Street, which will be closed to vehicle traffic for outdoor dining and shopping. Come and enjoy yourselves and be thankful for those who simply wish to “Serve and Protect”.
Town Talk is a series on the Royal Examiner where we will introduce you to local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profit leaders, and political figures who influence Warren County. Topics will be varied but hopefully interesting. If you have an idea, topic, or want to hear from someone in our community, let us know. Send your request to news@RoyalExaminer.com
Front Royal Unites seeks teamwork with Warren County School Board
Two organizers of Front Royal Unites, a newly formed nonprofit working for the lawful and equal treatment of all races and ethnic groups, on Wednesday, requested that the Warren County School Board work with the organization to address any racial disparities in Warren County Public Schools (WCPS).
A few of the School Board members agreed that the group’s request was reasonable and warranted.
“The reason we have come to you today is that in the past… we’ve had some racial disparities that we’ve experienced within the school system,” said Stevi Hubbard of Front Royal Unites.
Hubbard reminded board members that she previously appeared before the School Board to raise related topics, and told them during their Wednesday, July 1 meeting that the board has not addressed those concerns “in any way shape or form, which is pretty upsetting.”
Since her earlier visits, Hubbard said data has been collected on how students feel like they are being disproportionately punished or not included in certain programming based on color. And she noted that racial slurs have been painted on school buildings.
“We hope we can work with you on these issues this year, and we would like to see those changes made this year,” said Hubbard, adding that she doesn’t want to have her child or other students and staff attending school and seeing racist comments or graffiti on school properties.
“It is our hope that you will take us seriously now,” said Hubbard, pointing out to the School Board that Front Royal Unites now has 2,500 members supporting the group.
Samuel Porter, the spokesman for Front Royal Unites and a 2011 graduate of Skyline High School, said he wanted to ensure that “we’re all very cognizant” about the racial comments that sometimes might be made at school or online.
“There are some bad people. We are just trying to make sure that our students are going to safe environments, and they don’t have to worry based on what they look like on the outside,” Porter told School Board members during the community participation segment of their regular meeting on Wednesday.
Warren County School Board member James Wells, who represents the Happy Creek District, told the Front Royal Unites representatives that he was on board with their request.
“Whatever you need,” Wells told them. “I’ll give you my phone number. I’ll give you my emails. I would be glad to meet with you at any time because your cause is just, and I’d be more than happy to work with you.”
School Board Chairman Arnold Williams, Jr., agreed. “As Mr. Wells said, we will work with you guys,” he told Porter and Hubbard.
Formed in May, Front Royal Unites in June quickly organized and held two local peaceful civil rights marches.
Porter and Hubbard also recently spoke during the June 22 Front Royal Town Council meeting, where they applauded Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis and the department for proactively working with the group to support those marches.
“We come to the table very peacefully… to build bridges, not burn them,” Porter told the council members.
To hear the comments given by the Front Royal Unites organizers during the School Board meeting, watch the Royal Examiner video below.