President Gerald R. Ford became the 38th President of the United States on August 9, 1974 following the resignation of then-President Richard Nixon. One month later, from the Oval Office, President Ford granted Nixon a full, free, and absolute pardon. President Ford received counsel that there was legal standing and authority to grant the pardon, before Nixon was convicted of a crime or even formally charged in a court of law.
While there was legal standing in the decision, President Ford knew that pardoning Nixon was the only way to avoid a lengthy, public trial, if a fair trial for Nixon could even be possible. More importantly, President Ford knew that the pardon was the right decision to move the country past Watergate, to restore integrity to the Executive Branch, and to concentrate efforts on solving the nation’s issues.