Richard Nixon

There was never any formal proof of Richard Nixon’s involvement in Watergate, but President Ford did pardon Nixon. Presumably, Ford knew whether or not Nixon was involved in Watergate, so the average person would assume Ford’s presidental pardon was tantamount to an admission of Nixon’s guilt and an admission of Ford’s involvement in the coverup.
My question is not “was Nixon guilty?” My question is: what justification did Ford offer at the time for the pardon? He must have offered some rationale, some story to the press, some spin that made it look like he pardoned Nixon for the good of the country rather than to save his own miserable butt. What were the justifications he offered? Did republicans at the time generally accept those justifications or did pretty much everyone at the time assume Nixon had to be guilty (or else why would Ford bother pardoning him?)

According to interviews I’ve seen with Ford, he did it because every time he held a press conference to talk about something, all the press did was pester him about Watergate, and Ford realized that if the country was going to get past Watergate, then something was going to have to be done quickly. Since a rushed investigation wouldn’t be fair to Nixon, he chose a pardon as a way to solve the problem.

I found the text of Ford’s pardon speech:
http://www.watergate.info/ford/pardon.shtml

Ford’s justification is two-fold:

  1. “serious allegations and accusations hang like a sword over our former President’s head, threatening his health as he tries to reshape his life…Richard Nixon and his loved ones have suffered enough and will continue to suffer, no matter what I do”
  2. “many months and perhaps more years will have to pass before Richard Nixon could obtain a fair trial by jury in any jurisdiction of the United States…During this long period of delay and potential litigation, ugly passions would again be aroused. And our people would again be polarized in their opinions. And the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad.”

I’ve never heard anyone claim Ford was involved in the cover-up. Let’s face facts - Vice Presidents are rarely part of the President’s “inner circle”.

Furthermore, at the time of Watergate and the subseq

Furthermore, at the time of the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up, Ford was a Congressman, not Vice President. He didn’t become VP until Dec 1973.

True. I didn’t mean to imply Ford was directly involved in the early stages of Watergate. I meant that popular opinion was so against Nixon that many people must have wondered why Ford would defend Nixon unless there was some sort of self-interest (ie, Ford was involved in the subsequent coverup, or else Ford was returning a favor from Nixon, etc).
Whether such shenangians actually took place, I don’t know. I’m just saying that the appearance of improprity was definitely there.

Nixon was a pretty paranoid man. I doubt he would ever have trusted Ford with any secrets about Watergate as Ford would have been the person who stood to benefit the most by exposing Nixon.

There was some cycnicism at the time that Nixon might have made a deal with Ford before his resignation - giving Ford the presidency in exchange for the promise of a pardon. But everyone who was involved claims no such deal was made.

It was a patriotically-phrased series of rationales that placed party above country, wrecked Ford’s reputation, and probably cost Ford election in 1976.

Other than that, it was fine.

It’s absurd to claim that, because he was vexed by the press focussing on a single issue, he needed to make the issue go away by any means available. It was the most corrupt act I’ve ever seen by a public official.

Hummm … Ford is feeling poorly nowadya. Could Ford have been Deep Throat?

(I am still holding out for L Patrick Gray.)

As dtilque said above, Ford wasn’t even involved in the Administration when Watergate and the coverup came down. He wouldn’t have had any more inside information than any other Congressman about the whole thing at the time.

In 2001, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation presented Gerald Ford with a Profiles in Courage award as a man who put “love of country ahead of his own political future.”

CNN article.

Speech by President Ford at the awards ceremony.

Pretty strong opinion. You think Ford’s pardon was actually worse than Nixon’s original crime?

Watergate was both the initial break-in at Democratic National Committee Headquarters and the subsequent cover-up. While most historians agree that there is no good evidence that Nixon had prior knowledge of the break-in, the articles of impeachment provide a good summary of Nixon’s cover-up activities.

Ford basically felt that the issue had been dividing the country for long enough, and that a pardon would put an end to it so we could move on. And it worked (though for a short time, the issue became, “why did he give Nixon the pardon?”).

No one has ever presented any evidence that a deal was made. OTOH, the pardon really didn’t hurt Ford’s election campaign half as much as his saying Poland wasn’t under communist domination. People at the time – Nixon haters (like me) included – understood his reasoning and wanted to move on, too.

Little Nemo: “You think Ford’s pardon was actually worse than Nixon’s original crime?”

Because of the pardon, Nixon evaded prosecution, and his defenders may continue to claim that he, indeed, “was not a crook.” So while I don’t KNOW for certain what Nixon did, I know what Ford did.

The Watergate Committee, and the subsequent criminal trials, had full power of subpoena and had mountains of evidence and testimony. Plus Nixon’s own words, recorded on hours of tapes. If you don’t KNOW for certain what Nixon did, you haven’t been paying attention.

Ford’s gaffe in the debate referred to all of Eastern Europe not being under Soviet domination.

The whole gaffe is explained in great detail at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, MI.

Which I’ve visited twice! Now there’s an impeachable offense.