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2016 election

Before stepping down in August 2017, FBI agent Peter Strzok led Hillary Clinton's email investigation, and later led the bureau's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

He's also become a target of Republicans for unearthed text messages that show him and his then-partner criticizing President Trump and dismissing his chances of winning the White House. That's led some, including the president himself, to assert that Strzok was derelict in his duty.

On July 12, Strzok appeared before a congressional committee where Republicans tried to corner him. But they didn't realize what he'd do next.

Strzok gave an impassioned two-minute speech in which he explained why the claims against him are harmful to American democracy and those who work to defend it.

Strzok didn't deny that he's no fan of Trump, but he made it clear he never brought those feelings into work. "I can assure you, at no time in any of these texts did those personal beliefs ever enter into any realm of any action I took," he said.

He turned the spotlight away from himself and placed it on his colleagues.

"This isn't just me sitting here. You don't have to take my word for it," he said, insisting that even if he tried to do something improper to affect the 2016 election against Trump or another candidate, "they would not tolerate any improper behavior in me anymore than I would tolerate it in them. That is who we are as the FBI."

He wasn't suggesting the FBI or any government agency is above criticism. However, he did say that accusing them of meddling in our elections — an accusation made by both Clinton and Trump supporters — is going a step too far.

"The suggestion that it is going on, that it might occur anywhere in the FBI, deeply corrodes what the FBI is in American society, the effectiveness of their mission, and it is deeply destructive," Strzok said.  

The whole thing backfired on his accusers. On his show Thursday night, Jimmy Kimmel riffed on the testimony, joking that "when you see some of them actually speak, it's shocking. They desperately want to use this to discredit the whole investigation."

All government officials should be held accountable, but attacking people to score political points is bad for democracy.

In just over two minutes, Strzok made the stakes clear: It's not about one person or even one election. With all the challenges we collectively face as a nation, we'll be ill-equipped to succeed if we're busy tearing each other down.

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What this photographer did after the election to make sure women are seen and heard.

"Everyone I spoke to said something about moving forward. More than ever I saw the resilience of women.”

On the day after the election, New York photographer Dorie Hagler set up her camera in a busy location and got to work.

Hagler has made a project of taking photos of women on days that are significant to them, like Mother's Day, Equal Pay Day, and International Women's Day. She calls it "Me & Eve." The day after an election in which Donald Trump, a man who has harassed, demeaned, disrespected, and demonized women, became the president-elect of the United States felt just that: significant.

So Hagler picked a bustling, public place — in this case, Grand Central Station in New York — and set up her camera, laptop, and small printer. Usually, she photographs average women to give them the opportunity to be seen and heard. After she takes their picture and gives them a copy of it for free, she asks each woman to share something memorable that happened in her life that wouldn't have happened if she wasn't a woman.

On this day, however, she asked a more election-related question: "What now?"

The responses she got, Hagler says, were "surprisingly hopeful."

"Everyone I spoke to said something about moving forward. More than ever, I saw the resilience of women."

1. Like this woman, who called for people to "rise up in the face of racism, fascism, and misogyny."

“I think first we need to do a lot of reflection and some collective critique. We have to rise up and unite. It’s been the case with movements that they can’t unite internally. You have to unite around priorities: health, safety, equality. We need to rise up in the face of racism, fascism, and misogyny. Turn the tears to positive rage and passion. You can’t just be depressed and wait four more years. Even Obama’s movement didn’t stay together, didn’t support him with his policies. No we are stuck with a white supremacist.” — Eva Golinger

2. And this woman, who wished she was old enough to vote.

“I wish I could have voted. If younger people could have voted, the outcome would have been different. In my High School we had a mock trial and Hillary won. Our generation is next to vote and we have hope. After the next four or eight years, we will have a chance to change and fix things. We are more progressive and we are more hopeful.” — Arianna O’Hara

3. This woman shared a conversation she had with her sons.

“I spoke with my sons this morning. They are sad about the outcome of the election and they also always pick up what we are feeling. I really believe that change starts close to home. Now is the time for acts of kindness and introspection and finding ways to lift ourselves and everyone else up. We need to open our hearts more, even if we really don’t feel like doing it today, we need to.” — Andi Schreiber

4. And this woman shared her frustration with negative stereotypes about women.

“We have to stay positive, keep moving forward and keep trying. The issue that bothers me the most is that women don’t get paid the same as men. It is based on a stereotype that women don’t perform in their job as well as men. But that just isn’t true.” — Lea Adams

5. This woman had a message of resilience and resistance.

“I hope there is a difference between what Donald Trump says and what he does. I hope he was just talking. Women should be strong and not accept this as a loss. Do your thing and don’t let him stop you. I was just traveling in Iceland and the women there protested the 14% wage gap by walking out of their jobs 14% early.  Then the next day, they took to the streets with pots and pans. Don’t give up.” — Danielle Schäfer

6. And this woman had a message of hope.

“Hopefully everyone else in Congress can keep him in control and not let him start a violent war. I will do the best I can do to be the best I can be and not let Donald Trump negatively affect me.” — Samantha Galente

7. This woman expressed what a lot of people are feeling right now — a fear of the unknown.

“I’m looking for the silver lining. People are so polarized right now that maybe the outcome of the election will help us come together. It is the unknowns that scare me, but I hope I am surprised in a good way. Let’s not feel like something has been taken away from us.” — Michelle Medina

There is no simple answer to "what now?" but one thing is clear: We are not powerless.

Hagler's intent with this project is to let everyday women be seen and heard. If there's one thing we've learned from this election, it's that women should to be seen and women should be heard. A woman who was, arguably, the most qualified presidential candidate in recent history lost the election to a man who was the walking talking epitome of sexism — and while there's no one factor that led to her defeat, it's clear that sexism and misogyny played a part in it.

So, what now? Now, more than ever, we need to normalize the idea of women in power. Now, more than ever, we need to call out sexism when we see it. Now, more than ever, we need to implement hiring practices that give women equal opportunity to men. Now, more than ever, we need to question our subconscious biases. Now, more than ever, we need to let little girls and little boys know that women can be great leaders.

Not all women voted for Hillary Clinton, but roughly 54% did — and she won the popular vote by more than a million votes. People were ready for her to bust through that glass ceiling. By vehemently opposing sexism and misogyny when we see it now, maybe the next time a woman runs for the highest office in the country, she won't have to do it while jumping through twice as many hoops as her male counterparts and being held to an impossible standard.

President-elect Donald Trump is the hand we've been dealt for now. We can hope for the best, but we also can't stop trying to make progress on our own. For the next four years, women should be seen and heard from those walking to work in Grand Central, to those in the oval office. Make it happen, America.

The other night as the votes rolled in, I started to get really upset my parents were seeing what was happening.

It sounds weird, but those were my first thoughts. And they’ve been sticking with me. It’s partly my own damaged psyche, but I feel ashamed this happened.

My dad survived the Holocaust, lost his entire family, fought with the partisans, and is a full-fledged hero. My mom survived Kristallnacht 78 years ago. She escaped to a children’s home in France and eventually made her way to America, where she’s been working to help educate people and end prejudice against all types of people for her entire adult life.

They endured the absolute worst life could offer. They saw the worst in their fellow citizens right down to their next-door neighbors. Imagine bad — it was worse.

But somehow, they’re not angry people. They’re not hateful.

They are good, smart, deeply aware of international issues, and news junkies. They’ve never looked away from the world, no matter how bleak the view.

After all they’ve encountered, it pained me that they were home watching the same results as I was. I thought maybe their experiences could help put this election into perspective —  and maybe even make me feel a little better.

I called my dad, who's seen it all. He’s experienced loss; he crawled on his hands and knees from his town to the Polish forest where he survived alone for months; he fought back; he came to America with nothing; he made himself into a remarkably successful real estate developer and philanthropist.

After we shared our common disbelief at the choice Americans made, he told me he didn't understand how people could have voted for Trump.

I called my mom.

Her message was clear: “Yes, it’s a bummer, but the real message here is that we all need to become activists. Today.”

She thought back to her experiences as a child. “You know, maybe if we had organized and fought back against Hitler’s rise right from the beginning, we could have prevented what happened. We could have made it more difficult for him to do what he did if we hadn’t waited and just assumed that ‘this too shall pass.’”

I’m not arguing that Trump is Hitler. He’s not. I hate the constant comparisons and feel they are counterproductive. Trump deserves a chance to lead. But he can do a lot of damage to progressive values and important democratic institutions in a short time.

We can look forward to 2018 and 2020, but in the meantime, we should all become activists and make it as difficult as possible for him to enact policies counter to our values.

If we don’t, this too shall not pass.

At the end of the conversation, my mom said, “Sorry, I don’t think I did a very good job of cheering you up.”

Pretty amazing, right? She thought it was her job to cheer me up.

Don’t underestimate the resilience of good people. Don’t underestimate your own power to make things better.

And don’t forget to take my mom’s advice. She’s almost always right. It runs in the family.

“We were unusually busy last night," said Steve Mendelsohn, deputy executive director at the Trevor Project on Wednesday, Nov. 9.

As the 2016 election drew to a close in the late hours of Nov. 8, 2016, many young LBGTQ kids were left in despair.  The Trevor Project is an LGBTQ youth crisis intervention organization, and they were just one of many groups our country desperately needed as the clock ticked toward the declaration of a president-elect Trump.

“People are very anxious about what happened," Mendelsohn says. "People are likely scared that their rights are going to be taken away.”

A woman sheds tears at Clinton's election night event in New York. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender kids are particularly vulnerable right now and have been for the entire election cycle.

Kids were listening when Trump suggested nominating Supreme Court justices who would reverse the decision on marriage equality. They learned about his running mate, Mike Pence, who supports conversion therapy — which is a form of child abuse — and who approved a religious freedom bill that discriminated against people like them.

“LGBTQ youth felt vulnerable throughout the entire campaign when they listened to the rhetoric coming from many of the candidates," Mendelsohn said. "The outcome of the campaign did not make them feel comforted.”

Crisis Text Line, which allows anyone in despair to connect to a counselor through their phone, reported double the volume of texts in the 24 hours following the election. "Election" and "scared" were two words mentioned most by those who texted in. The most prevalent words associated with one another were "scared" and "LGBT."

The day after the election, several transgender kids reportedly committed suicide in the wake of Trump's win.

Image via iStock.

If you are a young LGBTQ person feeling hopeless right now, know that most Americans are standing with you.

This week, more of us voted for a candidate who fights for LGBTQ people and their protections than for the candidate who won (the president-elect won in the Electoral College votes, not the popular vote). Americans — particularly young people — believe in your equality.

If our future president wants to take away your rights, he's going to have to go through the American people first.

If you know a young LGBTQ person, don't just assume they're OK.

They may need to hear your voice right now, even if they haven't shown it. “The most important thing [allies] can do is to let their loved ones know that they’re there for them," Mendelsohn said. "To actually reach out to them and say, ‘I care about you, I love you, and I’m here to help anytime you need me.’"

You can also learn more about the Trevor Project and support the work that they do.

If you are anyone else who's feeling helpless and scared, know that you are not alone.

We've watched an unprecedented campaign built on xenophobia, misogyny, and racism win the election this week. Many of us are feeling vulnerable, anxious, and scared — and rightfully so. Remember that the majority of Americans are in your corner, and we're going to fight like hell for you, your rights, and your future.

We can't think ourselves to a better place on our own, though, and that's OK. There are people who are here to help for exactly that reason.

If you are a young LGBTQ person in crisis, don't suffer in silence. Someone who loves you is waiting one phone call away, day or night, at The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386.

To contact Trans Lifeline, a hotline staffed by and aimed at helping transgender people, call 877-565-8860.

To anyone else in need, Crisis Text Line is there for you, 24/7: Text START to 741741. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available at 800-273-8255.