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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Democracies die slowly. Is that what’s happening now under Trump?

Roger Stone
Roger Stone leaves federal court in Washington on Feb. 1, 2019.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

To the editor: President Trump blatantly intervened in the Justice Department’s initial sentencing recommendation for convicted felon and former Trump advisor Roger Stone. (“Did the Justice Department cave to Trump in the Roger Stone case? We need to know,” editorial, Feb. 12)

The Department of Justice is supposed to be above politics and administer “equal justice under law.” By publicly stating that the recommendation for between seven and nine years in prison in the 26-page sentencing memo was “horrible and very unfair,” Trump has taken another step toward destroying our democracy.

As the book “On Tyranny” by Yale historian Timothy Snyder demonstrates, democracies don’t die all at once. They die slowly. Among his lessons is for the people to defend their institutions — in this case, surely we must defend an independent judiciary. Snyder also warns us to listen for dangerous words. Trump definitely smears and uses violent language, including “lock her up” and “punch him in the face.”

There is no time to lose. As his corruption of the Justice Department shows, Trump is a dangerous threat to our entire democratic way of life.

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Michael B. Natelson, Newport Beach

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To the editor: What is horrible and very unfair is that Stone, who is unabashedly unrepentant after being convicted for lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, is likely to get off easy during sentencing or will be pardoned by the president.

If these crimes are not considered dangerous to our democracy, what will it take to get into big trouble in the future? What is in the Kool-Aid that Atty. Gen. William Barr and nearly all GOP senators are drinking for them to let the destruction of our constitutional checks and balances continue?

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David Comden, Ventura

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To the editor: For a paper that advocates justice, I find the sentence, “The burden is on Barr to prove the Justice Department wasn’t doing the president’s bidding,” to be a bit peculiar.

You are implying that the Department of Justice has done something wrong. Since when is it up to the accused to prove their innocence? Isn’t it up to the accuser to prove that someone did something wrong?

Emanuel R. Baker, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Anyone who thinks we are not becoming an autocracy has not been paying attention.

This president and his attorney general have turned this nation into something I no longer recognize. We are rapidly losing any semblance of a moral compass as well as the rule of law, something that the president flouts regularly, but the Republicans are too spineless to care.

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When Trump can, with impunity, remove a decorated Army lieutenant colonel from his post on the National Security Council for telling the truth and intervene to save a pal who lied and engaged in witness tampering, we are lost.

I don’t blame one of the attorneys who led the Stone prosecution for resigning from the Justice Department, but I surely hope that other good people will remain there to fight this astonishing corruption.

Rebecca Hertsgaard, Palm Desert

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To the editor: I don’t understand why Trump was in such an uproar over the possibility of his friend Stone being sentenced to between seven and nine years in prison. It’s a foregone conclusion that Trump will pardon him long before he steps foot in a jail cell.

Jeff Hershow, Woodland Hills


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