Politics

To Prosecute or Not to Prosecute Trump

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  • In Montana, a Right to a Healthy Environment
  • Affordable Charging Stations for E.V.s
  • The Pleasures of Public Plazas

Credit…Mark Peterson for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Prosecution of Trump May Have Terrible Consequences,” by Jack Goldsmith (Opinion guest essay, Aug. 10), about the charges brought by Jack Smith:

Mr. Goldsmith argues that the prosecution of Mr. Trump will further erode the already diminished belief that Republicans have in our justice system and may “inspire tit-for-tat investigations of presidential actions by future Congresses and by administrations of the opposing party.”

He may be correct. But the integrity of our democracy is at stake. As the New York University law professors Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissman have written, “To not have brought this case against Mr. Trump would have been an act of selective nonprosecution” because so many foot soldiers have been prosecuted for their Jan. 6 attempt to disrupt our government.

So Mr. Goldsmith is incorrect when he claims: “If the prosecution fails (especially if the trial concludes after a general election that Mr. Trump loses), it will be a historic disaster.” No matter the result, the prosecution of a former president who attempted to retain power by thwarting the democracy he swore to protect is a victory for the rule of law and a triumph for our Republic.

Bruce Kirby
Rockville, Md.

To the Editor:

Jack Goldsmith studiously ignores a key factor of this disputed topic. While he details concerns about prosecuting Mr. Trump, he does not touch on the toxic consequences of not prosecuting.

Failure to address the multiple violations of the law and the Constitution would embolden future presidents to flout the law and would seriously corrupt the office of president. That could end the American democracy with dispatch.

Hill Kemp
Alamogordo, N.M.

To the Editor:

I hope everyone who wants Donald Trump severely punished follows the sensible thoughts expressed by Jack Goldsmith.

Putting Mr. Trump in jail or even having trials will be the most divisive era experienced by Americans. Sadly, politics has prevented an open, nonpartisan discussion, along with missed opportunities, as Mr. Goldsmith expressed.

How well I remember when President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974. With a stroke of a pen, the Watergate era virtually ended. Mr. Ford’s pardon cost him the presidency and Jimmy Carter won the election.

With Mr. Trump, as Mr. Goldsmith states, it’s a mess. But let’s not make it worse by taking vengeance. It’s time for smart, levelheaded politicians on both sides of the aisle to get it right for America and put aside partisan politics.

Martin H. Sokol
Great Neck, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Jack Goldsmith thinks that it might have been better, in view of the country’s political fractiousness, for the Department of Justice to have passed up its duty to investigate Donald Trump’s lawless behavior.

But it has been Mr. Trump’s lawlessness and incitement of violence itself that have been major causes of the country’s increasing political divisions.

And Mr. Goldsmith thinks Mr. Trump’s lawlessness should go unchecked because his party is loudly objecting? So what? Is the Justice Department to be intimidated and silenced for trying to uphold the rule of law?

On the other hand, “A Brawl That Was, for Some, a Clarifying Moment,” by Charles M. Blow (column, Aug. 10), says that after centuries of oppression and victimization of Black people, it was cathartic to see Black people come to the rescue of a Black victim of violence.

Mr. Blow writes that “no people are obligated to endure violence without defending themselves.” So are we to let Donald Trump continue on his rampage without defending our democracy and the rule of law?

Myrna Lueck
Ypsilanti, Mich.

To the Editor:

I can sum up Jack Goldsmith’s guest essay in two sentences: “Donald Trump is really, really good at lying and calling people names. Therefore, Donald Trump should be able to get away with anything.”

Paul Criswell
Wellesley, Mass.

In Montana, a Right to a Healthy Environment

Youth plaintiffs in Held v. State of Montana gathered in June at Pioneer Park in Helena, Mont.Credit…Janie Osborne for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Montana Judge Rules for Youth in Climate Case” (front page, Aug. 15), about a ruling that people in Montana have a constitutional right to a healthful environment:

Congratulations to the youths and the judge in this case for taking this action. Everything that has happened over the past few years shows us that we must do far more to slow climate change, and we must do it now.

The terrible fires in Hawaii, the massive fires in Canada and their smoke that covered the upper parts of the United States, and the heat and fires in so much of Europe clearly show us that climate change is a clear and present danger.

For the sake of our children and future generations we must take action to save our environment.

Marvin Woll
Raleigh, N.C.

To the Editor:

A small step, but good news!

How ironic, though, that so many jurisdictions do not already recognize that protecting citizens from the dangers of climate change is a legitimate function of government.

The high-minded words in the U.S. Constitution — that the country should“promote the general welfare”— would seem obvious enough, were it not for the corrupt ways in which state and national governments have partnered with private energy companies, exhibiting wholly insufficient regard (sometimes complete disregard) for long-term environmental impacts.

Michael T. Ferro
Endwell, N.Y.

Affordable Charging Stations for E.V.s

Credit…Larry Towell/Magnum Photos

To the Editor:

Re “How to Make Sure Federal Climate Money Helps Everyone” (Opinion, Aug. 14):

Farah Stockman accurately describes the challenges facing underserved communities trying to access Inflation Reduction Act funds. City and county governments will play a crucial role given their ability to facilitate (or slow) planning, permitting, and revenue for community-scale energy and building infrastructure.

Nowhere is this clearer than much-needed public charging for electric vehicles, which can trip across dozens of local permit, design and cost barriers, particularly in lower-income communities.

If we are to have an equitable and effective electric vehicle transition, city leaders nationwide need to develop strategies to make affordable charging available to everyone.

Ted Lamm
San Francisco
The writer leads the E.V. Equity Initiative at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

The Pleasures of Public Plazas

To the Editor:

Benjamin Moser’s guest essay, “I Live in the Europe of My American Dreams” (Aug. 15), resonated with my own memories of the exhilaration and awe I experienced visiting the palaces, museums and churches of Europe.

What was not mentioned, but which I now think I value as much or more, was seeing for the first time the plazas and other public spaces of Florence, Venice, Rome, Siena, Vienna, Paris and London.

Especially now, in our country’s current state of fraying civic fabric, I long for the pleasures and social benefits of simply sitting, talking with friends, reading or people watching in a beautiful communal space.

We may not have Chartres or Notre Dame, but with will and vision America can have more public plazas.

Ann Speltz
Chicago

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