Aug. 30, 2004 Updated Jan14, 2007
Nixon addressing his cabinet and White House staff prior to his departure, Aug. 9,1974.
On the eve of the release of the "smoking-gun tape," President Nixon cut a blanket pardon deal with Vice President Ford that would put Ford in the Oval Office eight days later.
by Don Fulsom
Thirty years ago, President Gerald Ford stunned the nation by granting his crooked predecessor, Richard Nixon, a preemptive blanket pardon for all of his White House crimes. He did so, Ford said, for the good of the country: "My conscience tells me it is my duty, not merely to proclaim domestic tranquility but to use every means that I have to insure it."
The pardon got the ex-president off the legal hook on a host of criminal activities he had ordered, led and/or covered up. The Watergate crimes alone ranged from burglary to campaign sabotage, espionage, and illegal fund-raising, and included efforts to exploit, subvert or pervert the Justice and State Departments, the CIA, the IRS, the FBI and the Secret Service, as well as a wide variety of other assaults on the U.S. Constitution and on the rules of democratic fair play.