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Ralph Nader > Special Features > Letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland

January 9, 2024

Merrick B. Garland

United States Attorney General

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20530

Re: Petition for Writ of Mandamus to accelerate criminal trial date for Donald Trump in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, 23-CR-80101, tentatively set for May 20, 2024

Dear General Garland:

Former President Donald Trump is too dangerous to the survival of the rule of law to tolerate leisurely criminal prosecutions for 91 felonies in four jurisdictions. Among other things, as you know, Mr. Trump has called for terminating the Constitution if electoral fraud is alleged and boasted that under Article II, he was crowned with the right to do anything he wanted as president.  You also know Trump is currently absurdly claiming absolute immunity from criminal prosecution in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for orchestrating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by his Stop the Steal followers in United States v. Trump, 23-CR-00257. That trial has been set for March 4, 2024, by Judge Tanya Chutkan.

It speaks volumes that Mr. Trump has refrained from stating he would accept any adverse decision in the multiple cases he confronts, implying that he would resort to the violence we witnessed on January 6. All the lights on the constitutional dashboard are flashing. Time is of the essence in defending the Constitution from Mr. Trump’s planned destruction whether or not re-elected to the White House. He is a ticking time bomb to blow up the our constitutional Republic.

A Trump rookie, United States District Judge, Aileen M. Cannon, is presiding over Trump’s prosecution for Espionage Act and companion crimes in the Southern District of Florida, United States v. Trump, 23-CR-80101.  Judge Cannon’s pre-trial rulings betray a pronounced pro-Trump bias, including her bizarre appointment of a special master to supervise the Department’s review of documents seized pursuant to a search warrant. The appointment provoked a summary rebuke and tart reversal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Trump v. United States, No. 22-1305, December 1, 2022.

On July 21, 2023, Judge Cannon set a tentative trial date for May 20, 2024, but has indicated the date is likely to slip. Trump’s lawyers have predictably asked for a trial date after the 2024 presidential election.  The Department had proposed a trial date in December 2023, which was rejected by Judge Cannon.

There is no reason to delay Trump’s Espionage Act trial beyond May 20, 2024.  The factual criminal narrative is much simpler than the January 6th case before Judge Chutkan scheduled to begin more than two months earlier. The incriminating evidence against Trump from his own mouth is overwhelming.  Voters should be fully informed of Mr. Trump’s criminality before voting, not afterwards, when it may be too late.

Accordingly, we strongly urge you to consider filing a petition for a writ of mandamus in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit prohibiting Judge Cannon from postponing Trump’s trial beyond May 20, 2024.  We believe Judge Cannon should be taken off the case for bias but for the concern that her recusal or removal would further delay the trial to Mr. Trump’s benefit. See Cobell v. Kempthorne, 455 F. 3d 317 (D.C.Cir. 2006).

We were both present in Washington, D.C. during the October 20, 1973, ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ in which President Richard M. Nixon attempted to deep-six the rule of law by illegally ordering the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Mr. Cox issued a press statement that evening stating, “Whether ours shall continue to be a government of laws and not of men is now for Congress and the American people to decide.”

Mr. Cox’s words should be an inspiration for you to do the right thing at this right time to hold Mr. Trump accountable for taking a wrecking ball to the Constitution virtually every day of his presidency. This is no time to go wobbly on the rule of law for political motives.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our views.


Bruce Fein, Esq.

Ralph Nader, Esq.