The former Watergate prosecutor gives Ford a mixed grade for the pardon:
While I do not believe Ford was wrong to pardon Nixon, the timing of the pardon was premature and may have cost Ford the margin of victory in the 1976 election. Had Ford kept to his original plan and allowed time for formal charges to be lodged against Nixon, spelling out the specifics of his culpability, it would have been up to Nixon to either accept the pardon or fight the charges in court. But pardoning Nixon without requiring at least an acknowledgment of responsibility for serious misconduct and for lying to the public left the door open for the spate of revisionist books and articles that followed the resignation.
The question is whether, knowing that he was going to pardon Nixon anyway, it was better for Ford to act sooner to expedite the healing process.
Meanwhile, Bob Woodward, reports in today’s Washington Post that Ford’s personal friendship with Nixon played a role in the pardon:
“I think that Nixon felt I was about the only person he could really trust on the Hill,” Ford said during the 2005 interview.
Ford returned the feeling.
“I looked upon him as my personal friend. And I always treasured our relationship. And I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon, because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn’t want to see my real friend have the stigma,” Ford said in the interview.