Prosecute Trump, Despite the Risks?

More from our inbox:

  • Abortion Prosecutions Show the Need for Data Privacy
  • Moderna’s Greed
  • The Mental Health of Children

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law” (editorial, Aug. 28):

We must ask two questions when considering a criminal prosecution of Donald Trump: What is the likelihood of convicting him? What are the likely consequences of an acquittal?

Our judicial system depends on unbiased jurors willing to assess and act on the facts presented at trial. Criminal verdicts must be unanimous in both federal and state courts. One of 12 jurors can prevent a conviction.

Mr. Trump’s supporters have shown a willingness to embrace lies that are to his advantage. One or more jurors might acquit him if given the chance, irrespective of the facts. Would his acquittal not be “proof” of the unfairness he claims?

Civil remedies may be a surer means to demonstrate that Mr. Trump is not above the law. Those include monetary damages, civil contempt, injunctions and restraining orders. Jury trials in such cases need not be unanimous.

William Dolan
The writer is a retired lawyer.

To the Editor:

Prosecuting Donald Trump, if adequate evidence exists, is a no-brainer. Despite the fact that it will likely deepen the existing chasm between sides in our population. Despite the real possibility of violent civil unrest it may provoke. Despite the fact so many Americans cannot see beyond the cult of a con man. It is an absolute necessity.

Civil unrest, violence in the streets, threats to peace and safety — all can and would be dealt with by our multiple law enforcement agencies. What our democracy cannot endure is the absence of the rule of law.

Mr. Trump’s apparent crimes, his despicable behavior on so many fronts, have been so egregious, so beyond the pale, that failure to prosecute would be the complete surrender of our society to a tyrant. We would, at that point, be nothing more than a banana republic with the world’s mightiest military.

MacKenzie Allen
Santa Fe, N.M.

To the Editor:

I appreciate the clarity of the case your editorial lays out and heartily agree with its conclusion. Yet I question one claim, that “dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office.”

What’s known is that they claim to believe Mr. Trump’s lies. This appears to be what has become characteristic of many — and perhaps most — Republicans who are running for state and national office: a willingness to say whatever is necessary to avoid having Donald Trump support an opponent in a primary or their next race. We don’t know what they believe; we know what they say.

Chris Weinmann
Norwich, Vt.

To the Editor:

Donald Trump may not be above the law, but he is a master at slipping through its cracks. Unfortunately, we are about to watch as his latest gambits bamboozle otherwise responsible enforcers of law and the norms of a civilized nation. The man has no shame and is willing to test every limit, legal and ethical, to get his way.

Your editorial says, “America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.” Only resolute action will constrain Mr. Trump. Prosecutors need to take action and get to court, where guilt can be established and penalized once and for all.

As a citizen I am tired of seeing Mr. Trump’s dodges. Stop his con. Lock him up!

David W. Leslie
West Des Moines, Iowa

Abortion Prosecutions Show the Need for Data Privacy

Credit…Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star, via Associated Press

To the Editor:

Re “Teenager Used Abortion Pills. Her Mother Is Facing Charges” (front page, Aug. 18):

The facts in the Nebraska case may be complex, but the warning is clear: States that seek to enforce bans against abortion and limit a woman’s reproductive health choices will target personal data held by U.S. companies. And communities of color, already subject to overreaching police surveillance that is enabled by artificial intelligence, are more likely to be targeted for prosecution. Not since the Patriot Act has there been a greater threat to the data privacy of Americans.

The F.T.C. has sued one location data broker, but Congress needs to step up. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act, now pending in Congress, should include a provision to limit law enforcement access to personal data. Many federal privacy laws contain similar provisions. The aim is to ensure that companies protect,from government investigators, the privacy interests of those whose personal data they choose to retain.

Congress must also not pre-empt the ability of states to pass stronger privacy laws. This is precisely the moment when states should develop innovative responses to safeguard data privacy. For example, mandatory deletion provisions for location data could limit the use of cellphone data in criminal prosecution. Robust anonymizing techniques could reduce the risk that individuals will be targeted.

Anyone seeking advice about unexpected pregnancies may turn to parents, teachers, counselors, family members and friends. All could be caught in a digital dragnet if Congress does not act to establish clear legal standards for law enforcement access to personal data held by third parties and preserve the ability of states to establish new safeguards.

Marc Rotenberg
Sabrina Talukder
Mr. Rotenberg is president of the Center for A.I. and Digital Policy and teaches privacy law at Georgetown. Ms. Talukder is the co-director of the Sunita Jain Anti-Trafficking Policy Initiative at L.M.U. Loyola Law School.

Moderna’s Greed

Moderna said Pfizer and BioNTech had infringed on patents filed between 2010 and 2016.Credit…Bagus Indahono/EPA, via Shutterstock

To the Editor:

Re “Moderna Sues Pfizer and BioNTech Over Coronavirus Vaccine” (news article, Aug. 27):

Greed obviously has no bounds as Moderna sues Pfizer, accusing it of breeching Moderna’s intellectual property rights in Pfizer’s development of its coronavirus vaccine.

U.S. citizens paid, through government grants, for the foundational research leading to this technology, and the U.S. government provided risk-free funding to accelerate the delivery of the Covid vaccine. Given that, I find it outrageous, especially in light of each company’s extraordinary profits, that Moderna now has the nerve to file a lawsuit.

This is just another example of the well-intentioned public funding of research being taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies. It’s time for reform of intellectual property laws that constrain the public’s access to lifesaving medications for which it has paid for the foundational research.

Scott Barnhart
The writer is a professor of medicine and global health at the University of Washington.

The Mental Health of Children

Credit…Eleanor Davis

To the Editor:

“Kids’ Mental Health Is a ‘National Emergency,’” by Jessica Grose (Sunday Opinion, Aug. 14), shares important ways that parents can support the mental health of their kids when mental health providers are in short supply.

I would add another suggestion: Parents can learn ways to become a non-anxious presence in their kids’ lives. Programs that teach authoritative, non-punitive parenting do just that. Though not substitutes for professional care, parenting skills that strengthen family relationships can help a lot.

As a recovering anxious parent myself, I benefit enormously from parenting programs. I’ve learned to use more encouraging language that builds my kids’ confidence, to set boundaries that give them a sense of security, and to give them a voice and choices within those boundaries to foster their independence.

Most important, I’ve learned to remain calm myself — stress is contagious — and focus on building a meaningful relationship with my kids.

Research shows that a close connection between a parent and a child mitigates the effects of stress and anxiety on developing minds and strengthens kids’ resilience and mental wellness.

Kathy Hedge
Garrett Park, Md.
The writer is the executive director of the Parent Encouragement Program, a nonprofit.

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