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Reps. Jayapal & Krishnamoorthi denounce firing of FBI Director James Comey

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Krishnamoorthi Jayapal
Krishnamoorthi Jayapal

Indian American lawmakers Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal had choice opinions over President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey Tuesday.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Denouncing President Trump’s firing of FBI Dir. James Comey Tuesday, Indian American lawmakers Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal joined dozens of their congressional colleagues to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate the president’s Russia ties.

The White House announced Tuesday Comey was being removed from his post in a surprise move. “President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions,” the White House said in its statement.

Comey had been appointed to the post by former President Barack Obama in 2013, and was in the process of spearheading an effort by the agency into investigating potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during November’s general election.

“The need for an independent commission or fully independent prosecutor to investigate and bring to light the truth of these matters for the American people is now more clear than ever,” Krishnamoorthi said in a press release. “It is extremely disturbing that the Chief Executive is interfering with an ongoing investigation into his Administration by firing the person charged with conducting it. One cannot help but be reminded of President Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. This action only raises further questions regarding the Administration’s ties to Russia,” he added.

Krishnamoorthi said as “a member of the House Oversight Committee,” he would welcome Comey’s “public, sworn testimony on the status of the FBI’s investigation.”

Jayapal, who is currently out of the country visiting India as part of a congressional delegation, shared her colleagues sentiment. “As I have said before, we urgently need a fully bipartisan and independent investigation into Russia’s influence on the White House and the 2016 election,” she said.

In her official statement, Jayapal termed the “manner and suddenness of” the FBI chief’s firing “deeply disturbing.” She added, “Comey’s dismissal, as he was investigating the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, is yet another alarming sign of how little regard the administration has for ethical lines and the Constitution.”

Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted: “I’ve said it before and will again – we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. This cannot wait.”

“My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia,” Republican Rep. Justin Amash tweeted. “The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.”

 

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Indian Americans’ complex relationship with politics in Trump America

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Rep. Gabbard presents a copy of the Bhagvad Gita to Indian Prime Minister Modi (2014)

HOUSTON (Diya TV) — Indian Americans constitute a tiny 1.5 percent of the U.S. population. The presence of Donald Trump, over 60 prominent lawmakers, and leaders of the corporate world, at the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event speaks to the many economic successes of this community in addition to the trade ties between the two countries.

Indian Americans are not just a rapidly rising population in the U.S.—from close to 2 million in 2010, to about 4 million in 2015— but are also the highest earning ethnic group in the US. 

At a median age of 34 years, 70 percent Indian Americans are foreign born. For them, forming allegiances with a political party in Trump America, can be daunting.

Howdy, Democrats: Indian Americans need to know

Two Democratic leaders not attending the event have become symbolic of the way some Indian Americans are conflicted in forming a clear political identity: Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard.

Democratic Congressman from California, Ro Khanna, recently tweeted that, “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians.” This was opposed immediately by those who thought that this was guilt shaming Hindu Americans.

While Hinduism is a religion based on myriad traditions and philosophies, Hindutva is a political ideology primarily based on a pluralistic Hindu identity. In an exclusive interview to Diya TV, he defended his stand saying, “We got a standing ovation when we said that in the district.”

He had previously joined the Congressional Pakistan Caucus and was urged by 230 Indian American organizations in the United States to withdraw from the caucus. Caucuses in the U.S. political system make decisions based on shared viewpoints to influence state legislatures.

Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard, made history by becoming the first Hindu to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. An Army veteran she was deployed as a medical administrator in Iraq. She kept her childhood copy of Bhagwad Gita for comfort during those days and gifted that copy to PM Modi on her first visit to India in 2014. However, she would be unable to share stage with PM Modi due to “prior engagements.”  Or perhaps Trump’s presence had something to do with her absence? She sent in a video with greetings and apologies to PM Modi for not being able to make it.

There was another stage Gabbard missed addressing in Houston last week: the presidential primary debate. She is one of the lower-polling Democratic presidential contenders and was passed up by the Democratic National Committee. Their reason being that she could not make the 2 percent threshold in polls although she had enough donors—very akin to the Indian American diaspora.

Gabbard’s political rise is attributed to funding from many Hindu organizations.

Both, Khanna and Gabbard, are scathing critics of American foreign military adventurism—that’s a viewpoint all Indian Americans could get on board with.

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Rep. Ro Khanna responds to criticism over Hindutva tweet

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Ro Khanna

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Diya TV spoke exclusively with Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna to get his response in the aftermath of a barrage of criticism he’s faced after posting a tweet that appeared to endorse an anti-Hindu activist.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to hold 20 bilateral meetings during his time in the U.S., including with President Trump. His speech at the UN will focus on India’s efforts in development, peace and security, but no further explanation on Kashmir, as it’s deemed an internal matter.

The Biden campaign hired Maju Varghese, a former Obama White House aide, to be its Chief Operating Officer and Senior Advisor.

Nova Southeastern University’s new Tampa Bay Regional Campus is now open, made possible thanks to a $200 million donation by Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel.

And ‘A Little Late with Lilly Singh’ debuted on NBC, with her first guest none then other than Mindy Kaling. Singh, who is Indo-Canadian, becomes the first woman of color ever to host a late night network show.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indian American IMPACT Summit showcases new leaders

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Impact Summit

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — A large contingent of politically engaged Indian Americans met at the Indian American Impact Summit in Washington to hear from current leaders and meet some that are on the rise. Diya TV was a proud media partner in the showcase that featured Democratic National Committee CEO Seema Nanda, and a host of local, state and federal candidates.

Prime Minister Modi and President Trump are scheduled to meet twice in the next week, according to Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Shringla, saying the India-US relationship has the potential to become the “defining partnership” this century. Full coverage of the Modi Trump Community Summit in Houston starts Sunday at 10 am Eastern, 7 am Pacific.

Indian American attorney Suraj Patel is launching another run for the 12th Congressional District in New York City, taking on fellow Democrat Carolyn Maloney once again.

Silicon Valley resident Natasha Gupta announced she is running for the California State Assembly in the 25th District. Gupta says she didn’t expect to run for office at this point in her life, but the turning point was the Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting, as she was in attendance the day before.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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