Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader listens during a news conference July 2, 2012 at Public Citizen in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ralph Nader to New York Judge: Prison Time for Trump 'More Imperative Than Ever'

"Your task is to ensure that the sentence matches the character of the offender, including his clear and present danger to the peaceful transfer of presidential power."

Legendary consumer advocate and attorney Ralph Nader is calling on the New York judge who presided over Donald Trump's hush money trial to hit the former president with a prison sentence, arguing the case for jail time is "open and shut" and that the defendant poses a grave threat to democracy.

"The law endows you with the discretion to sentence Mr. Trump to prison up to four years based upon the circumstances of the felonies and the obligatory appraisal of the character of the offender after a customary investigation—time-honored sentencing considerations," Nader and Bruce Fein, an attorney who specializes in constitutional law, wrote in a letter to New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

Nader released the letter, dated June 28, on the day the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority ruled that current and former presidents are entitled to sweeping immunity from criminal prosecution—a decision that threw a wrench in the hush money proceedings and the separate election-subversion case led by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

On Tuesday, Merchan granted a request from Trump's legal team to delay the presumptive GOP presidential nominee's sentencing in the hush money case—in which he was found guilty on 34 felony counts—and consider how the Supreme Court's immunity ruling could impact the proceedings. Trump is now scheduled to be sentenced on September 18, "if such is still necessary," Merchan announced.

Nader argued in a social media post that "a prison sentence is more imperative than ever."

In their letter to Merchan, Nader and Fein wrote that "the future of the United States will be materially influenced by your sentencing Donald J. Trump."

"Mr. Trump threatens a counter-revolution against the American Revolution and the United States Constitution in favor of executive absolutism indistinguishable from French King Louis XIV," Nader and Fein continued. "Mr. Trump and his would-be vice-presidential running mates have repeatedly refused to endorse the peaceful transfer of presidential power after the 2024 presidential election if Mr. Trump shouts electoral fraud without any testing in courts of law or other due process."

"Do not be oblivious to what all the world can see. Mr. Trump covets dictatorial powers like his friend Vladimir Putin in Russia," they added. "Germany's Weimar Republic invited its demise by ignoring Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, a playbook for the Nazi ascent to absolute power for which the world paid a staggering price. Your task is to ensure that the sentence matches the character of the offender, including his clear and present danger to the peaceful transfer of presidential power. Set a standard to which the wise and honest judge may repair with a jail term—at least a serious fraction of the four-year statutory maximum."

A jail term would not necessarily end Trump's bid for another four years in the White House, and legal experts have struggled to answer the question of what would happen if the former president was elected from prison.

"I don't think that the Framers ever thought we were going to be in this situation," Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, toldThe New York Times last month.

Nader, a four-time presidential candidate, has vocally warned of the fascist threat posed by Trump and the GOP, a threat he says has only grown in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Trump v. United States. Trump's advisers have already signaled that the former president intends to exploit the high court's ruling if he wins in November.

"The six Supreme Court dictators have issued an opinion that 'the king can do no wrong,'" Nader wrote in response to the decision. "They have given absolute immunity to presidents to use the Insurrection Act and the vague national emergency and national security declarations to suppress citizen protests and their political opponents."

"Today will live in infamy as a dictatorial, judicial putsch against the American Republic," Nader added. "Our founders, led by Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and George Washington would have been stunned."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.