The Daily Moth 6-8-17

June 8, 2017

 

 

Former FBI Director Comey Writes 7-Page Testimony and Gives Testimony before Senate, ADWAS Launches 24/7 Hotline Service 

 

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Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, June 8. Today there will be two big news stories — one about the fired FBI Director Comey and the second about a 24/7 abuse hotline service for deaf people. 

 

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Plenty of news about the fired FBI Director Comey. First, I’ll share you what he said in his 7-page testimony that was submitted to the Senate. Then, I’ll share updates from today’s testimony. 

 

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The former FBI Director James Comey submitted his written testimony about his interactions with President Trump — and there’s a lot of information in it. The information is from his written records after his interactions with Trump, starting January 6 at Trump Tower. 

 

Comey met with Trump a total of nine times in four months — three times in person and six on phone. This was way more than Comey met with Obama — he only met Obama twice in person, one in 2015 and  one in 2016.

 

On January 6, Comey told Trump that he was not personally under investigation, but told him that there was an investigation on certain Americans who the FBI thought Russians wanted to target to influence or compromise.

 

On January 27, Comey ate dinner with Trump at the White House in the Green Room — just the two of them. Trump asked him if he wanted to keep his job (Comey thought it was strange because he had already told him he wanted to stay). Trump said a lot of people wanted his job and because of the abuse Comey had taken, he could walk away. 

 

Comey said he felt like Trump wanted him to ask for his job and to establish a “patronage” relationship  — for Comey to not be independent but to “report to him.” This made Comey concerned because he said the FBI is supposed to be independent. 

 

Comey told Trump that he wanted to stay on the job and told him that he was not on anybody’s side politically. 

 

Trump responded by saying, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” There was awkward silence.

 

Later Comey tried to explain to Trump why it was important that the FBI stay independent of the White House to keep public trust in both institutions and their work. 

 

Trump asked for his loyalty again. Comey said he would be honest with him. Trump said, “yes, that’s what I want, honest loyalty.” Comey told him that’s what he would give. Comey said he thought it was possibly both looked at the terms, “honest loyalty” differently. 

 

On February 14, Comey met with Trump at the Oval Office. (This was the day after Flynn was forced to resign for lying about his communication with a Russian ambassador). Comey was there with several other people, and at the end of the meeting, Trump asked everybody expect for Comey to leave. 

 

Trump told Comey that he wanted to talk about Mike Flynn — saying that he had not done anything wrong, but he let him go because he misled the Vice President. Trump asked Comey to let this go, to let Flynn go, because he is a good guy. Comey agreed that he was a good guy, but didn’t say he would let him go. After some more discussion, Comey left. 

 

Comey discussed this with the FBI leadership team. He felt very concerned by Trump’s request, because the FBI is supposed to be an independent investigative agency.

 

Comey told the Attorney General Sessions that what happened was inappropriate and should never happen and asked him to prevent any future direct communication between him and Trump. Sessions did not reply. 

 

On March 30, Trump called Comey at the FBI. Trump told him that the Russian investigation was like a “cloud” over him, that he had nothing to do with Russia, did not become involved with Russian hookers, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. Trump asked Comey what he could do to “lift the cloud.” Comey told him that the FBI was investigating this as quickly as they could and wanted to do a good job of it. 

 

Trump then asked Comey about why he announced to Congress that there was an investigation on Russia influencing the election and the Trump  team, but said that Trump was not personally under investigation. Trump wanted him to make that public, but Comey said he preferred not to, because if he announced it, and then Trump ended up being investigated, the FBI would have to make that change/correction. 

 

On April 11, Trump called Comey about updates on if he would announce that Trump was not personally under investigation, that the “cloud” was getting in the way of him doing his job. 

 

Comey told him he passed that request to the Deputy Attorney General, as that is the proper procedure. Comey said Trump’s team had to reach out to him, and Trump said he would do that. 

 

Trump then told Comey that he was “very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” Comey did not ask him what he meant by “that thing.” Comey repeated that Trump’s team had to contact the Deputy Attorney General. Trump said he’d do that and ended the call. 

 

That was the last time they spoke with each other. Comey was fired on May 9. 

 

This is all new information that is causing a frenzy in Washington, D.C.

 

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Now, let’s go to Comey’s testimony today before the Senate intelligence committee about President Trump, his firing, and the Russian investigation. 

 

Comey took the oath and opened his statements by saying he was confused by the shifting explantations of why he was fired. He said there were differing statements from the Trump administration about the reasons for his firing: one said it was because of the Russian investigation, one said it was because of his statements about Hillary Clinton during election year, one said it was because the FBI was in disarray and that Comey was not a good leader. 

 

Comey said he felt that the Trump organization defamed Comey and lied about the FBI’s disarray. 

 

Comey said he felt he had to document his meetings with Trump because he felt Trump might lie about the nature of the meetings.

 

Comey still doesn’t know exactly why he was fired, said it might have been based on the Russia investigation.

 

Comey said he had no doubt that Russia interfered the election and tried to influence it, that they did the cyberattacks. Comey said the Russian government was invovled in those efforts. 

 

Comey emphasized that he was confident that the Russians never successfully altered any votes. 

 

About Michael Flynn — Comey said he was in legal jeopardy, there was an open FBI investigation on if he lied to federal investigators. 

 

Comey said it was disturbing and concerning that President Trump wanted him to drop the investigation on Flynn — but wouldn’t say if it was obstruction of justice (which is a crime of a person interfering with a law enforcement investigation by either lying, hiding evidence, or pressuring investigators). 

 

Comey said others needed to make that determination, but felt confident that Special Counsel Mueller would make that determination. 

 

Comey said he was confused that Trump asked him if he wanted to keep his job at a private dinner at the White House and that he asked for his loyalty. 

 

Comey was confused because he said earlier, during the day of Trump’s inauguration — when they walked together and shook hands — Trump whispered, “I really look forward to working with you.” 

 

Comey said Trump’s request of loyalty made him feel uneasy because the director of the FBI is supposed to be “independent” and act “blindfolded” — and not have to peek to see if the superiors (the President) approved of it.

 

About the February 14 meeting in the Oval Office, Comey said it disturbed him. Comey said he felt that Trump’s request to “let Flynn go” was a direction — (he did not say that it was an “order””) — but felt it was a direction coming from someone who had authority as the President. 

 

Senators told Comey that he should have stood up and told Trump that his request was inappropriate. 

 

Comey said he was not “Captain Courageous” but that he wrote a memo about it — and made it an unclassified memo so others could read it in a future event. Comey then said he revealed the memo of the Oval Office meeting about Flynn with a friend, who shared it with the media. 

 

This caused immediate controversy as it was viewed as Comey leaking information about a private meeting with the President. 

 

Comey said this memo was not classified information but he felt that it was necessary to share/leak the information to “force” the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to oversee the investigation.

 

Comey said he released the memo after he saw that Trump tweeted about the possibility of there being recorded tapes of conversations between the two. 

 

Comey said he hopes there are actual tapes, he doesn’t mind if all the tapes are released. 

 

Reporters asked the White House spokesperson — Sarah Huckabee Sanders — on if there were tape recorders of people’s conversations there. Sarah said she didn’t know, and would try to look under the couches. 

 

Earlier, Sarah said that the President is not a liar. 

 

There were several questions related to Hillary Clinton. Senator Cornyn asked Comey why there was not a “special counsel” for her investigation of using a private email server. Comey said he did think of it, but that there was not a case there and that if one was appointed, the conclusion of the investigation would be extended a year. 

 

Senator McCain asked Comey on why the investigation on Hillary ended while the investigation on Trump continued — and wondered why since this was an investigation on election interference (which should have involved both presidential candidates). Comey said the FBI was investigating if the Russians were working with the Trump team, not Clinton team. McCain seemed to be a little confused, he called Comey “President” twice.

 

There were also questions about whether Trump was under investigation during any time Comey was the FBI Director — and he said no. 

 

That concluded the testimony. The strongest statements was that Comey called Trump a liar, that he felt like Trump was using his position as President to direct him to drop the investigation on Flynn, and that he thought the FBI special counsel Mueller had a basis to investigate if there was obstruction of justice. 

 

The Senate committee closed the meeting and later held a closed-door, private meeting with Comey during the afternoon. 

 

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said Comey’s testimony has confirmed that he was not under investigation and that no votes during the election was changed because of Russian interference. 

 

Kasowitz said Comey’s statements that Trump told him to let Flynn go and the request for loyalty are lies, false statements. 

 

He called Comey a leaker for sharing information with media. The lawyer closed with saying that Trump feels vindicated and feels that the cloud is removed. 

 

We’ll see how this plays out in the future. 

 

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The ADWAS (Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services) is now providing a 24/7 hotline, available on either VP, AOL Instant Messaging, or email. 

 

This hotline is possible by ADWAS’ partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH). They have six Deaf NDVH advocates who work at ADWAS to answer people’s calls 24/7.  

 

I’ve reached out to ADWAS’s hotline coordinator, Megan Eramsus, and other ADWAS advocates for an interview. Here it is. 

 

 

[begin interview]

 

Alex: ADWAS recently announced that its hotline has now expanded to a 24/7 service. Can you tell us what is the purpose of the hotline and why a 24/7 expansion is important?

 

Megan: Domestic violence and sexual assault happens all of the time, it’s 24/7. It isn’t on a fixed schedule, it doesn’t only occur between 9am and 5pm. Now we finally have National Deaf Hotline that is 24/7 and the community now has direct access to communication with hotline advocates. This is really amazing- this need has always been there and now this need is becoming available for the community. This is the number one reason why we need a 24/7 hotline- direct access to communication. Secondly, the Deaf community is very small so what does this mean for confidentiality? Most of our callers has concerns about confidentiality- they don’t want people to know, community members to find out, co-workers perceiving them differently, to experience exclusion from the community, and many other reasons. So where could they go? That’s what the National Deaf Hotline is for- everything is confidential. They would have a safe place where they could talk about it: to discuss safety plans, to process their situation, to receive emotional support, or gain access to local resources. Those are two of the main reasons why the National Deaf Hotline is needed.

 

Alex: What are the various reasons or scenarios that you receive calls – and what do advocates typically do with clients?

Morgan:  We get calls from a variety of people. For instance, people from hearing agencies and shelters that have a Deaf survivor and are unsure how to work with them, they would call us to learn how to serve that person. We usually educate them about Deaf culture, accessibility, and the ADA law.  We explain how to get an interpreter, a videophone, and so on. Family and friends who are concerned about their loved ones call us to discuss options, how to provide support and safety planning. We would bring up topics such as DV education, what a healthy relationship looks like, community accountability, and how to decrease victim-blaming. We also get calls from organizations within the Deaf community about how they could collaborate with our services.

 

Chad: We get some callers specifically looking for emotional support. For instance, we receive calls from teens that are entering new relationship and want to learn more about what makes their relationship healthy. Advocates will engage in that discussion with the callers. Another example, we also provide emotional support to some callers who recently left their abusive relationship, they need support in figuring out what to do next, develop safety plans “how to be safer.” Generally, we discuss about what is healthy, unhealthy, abusive, and many other things related to emotional support. 

 

Alex: What are the main issues related with abuse in the Deaf community? 

 

Morgan:  One of the issues in the Deaf community in regards to abuse is that this world is not made for Deaf people- when Deaf people need support, how could they get it? Where would they go so that they could communicate efficiently? An example of this: frequently, when the police are called to a Deaf survivor’s house, who would interpret for the survivor? It’s usually the abuser who would be the interpreter in that scenario. Another issue is the Deaf community in itself. It’s small and everybody knows everyone. If one called somebody out as an abuser, everybody would know whom he or she is talking about.  Sometimes, this would cause them to lose friends. More often than not. Most people don’t want to believe it so they would participate in victim-blaming and minimize the abuse. When somebody discloses abuse, often people wouldn’t believe it and say things like “Maybe you did something to make them mad?” or “Maybe it was just a bad day?”  Another thing has to do with community accountability and healthy relationships. Usually, when something happens, people would look the other way, say “It’s not my problem- it’s between them.” We also don’t really talk about healthy relationships in the Deaf community. Actually, generally, the hearing community doesn’t either but with the Deaf community, it’s especially more important because often, Deaf people grow up without communication access so how would we know what healthy relationships look like?

 

Alex: Can anybody call the hotline? 

 

Chad: Who can call hotline? Anyone! We provide support through VP, email, and AIM, the good ol’ fashioned aol instant messenger.

 

Alex: Can you tell us how this was expanded – how did you get the extra funding for hotline advocates? Previously CSD Communication Service for the Deaf did a national campaign about the need for a 24/7 hotline — did that make an impact? 

 

Megan: Our Executive Director, Tiffany Williams, and ADWAS assessed the Hotline program and noted the need to expand the direct access to 24/7. With lobbying efforts from ADWAS and CSD’s support, we proposed to the Department of Justice the need to expand hotline to 24/7. The DOJ approved and granted two federal funding through National Domestic Violence Hotline. Plus the communities’ efforts a few years ago, CSD’s outreach and campaign #whowillanswer raised awareness and community’s involvement through donations, which totaled in $25,000 to support the need in expanding hotline service to 24/7.  This resource is made available through various contributions. 

 

[end interview]

 

 

That’s a very important service. I reached out to Nicole Soukup, who works as the Director of Program Operations at CSD and was very involved with ADWAS’ efforts to get the hotline expanded in a national campaign named #WhoWillAnswer that raised $25,000 for the hotline. 

 

She was in Seattle last month and visited ADWAS’ new hotline center. 

 

Nicole said CSD became involved because they saw that the hotline was only available from 9 am to 5 pm and only on weekdays, and wanted to fill in the gap in direct access. Nicole said the hotline expansion would not be possible without the support of ADWAS, sister DV/SA organizations, the CSD team, and volunteers. 

 

Wonderful work in our community. For more information, please check ADWAS’ website at www.adwas.org. The VP and contact information is there. 

 

Hotline Information: www.adwas.org/hotline/national

 

CSD Information: www.csd.org | Announcement: https://www.csd.org/stories/adwas-24-hour-hotline-funding-awarded/ | Nicole’s Vlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmJNLIwunGc

 

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That is all for this week. Be sure to check out the Deaf Business Spotlight tomorrow! Have a wonderful weekend and stay with the light! 

 

 

 

 

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