After Fourth of July fireworks light up Portland’s summer skies, there could be no better celebration of our Declaration of Independence than to exercise the principles embedded in our Constitution and launch an investigation to impeach the president of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson states it clearly in our Declaration: “A Prince (president), whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler (chief executive) of a free people.”

Although the president flatly denies abuse of his executive powers, his contemptuous displays of defiance call to mind remarks of Robert H. Jackson, a U.S. Supreme Court justice who presided as chief prosecutor in the 1946 Nuremberg war crimes trials.

Addressing Germany’s Third Reich leaders at the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, Jackson wrapped up his argument for conviction by quoting from Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” Jackson likened the Duke of Gloucester (the future Richard III) to the Nazi criminals seated before him: “As blood-stained Gloucester stood by the body of his slain King (whom he had killed), he begged of the widow … ‘Say I slew them not.’ And the Queen replied, ‘Then say they were not slain. But dead they are.’ ”

Jackson concluded that the acquittal of these defendants would deny the very fact of World War II: “If you were to say of these men that they are not guilty, it would be as true to say that there has been no war, there are no slain, there has been no crime.”

If the House of Representatives fails to conduct impeachment investigations, then it would be as true to say: “There has been no Mueller investigation. There was no obstruction of justice. There have been no high crimes. Then say, ‘The Constitution has not been slain.’ But dead it is.”

Robert F. Lyons

Kennebunk


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