Let Biden be Ford? The proposal of a former FBI director to pacify the United States

Joe Biden will assume the presidency on January 20. Some – such as the former director of the FBI, James Comey – propose that he act like Gerald Ford and grant a pardon to Donald Trump (Infobae)

Let Biden be Ford. The idea circulates in some areas of the political circle of the U.S and the former director of the FBI, James Comey, in an interview with the program Newsnight from the english chain BBC. The reference dates back to 1974, when the then president Gerald Ford decided to pardon Richard Nixon for the crimes committed around the scandal of Watergate that forced him to give up White House on August 9 of that year.

Comey believes that Joe Biden -who will assume the first magistracy of the U.S next January 20- should act in line with what has been done by Ford to pacify the country and bring calm waters to its population. That is, pardon Donald Trump for the crimes that could fit him. At least, he says, you should evaluate it with your team. “I don’t know, I should at least consider it. As part of healing the country and getting us to a place where we can focus on things that are going to matter for the next four years, I think Joe Biden will have to at least think about that.”.

The attack by Donald Trump fans on the Capitol that earned the president a new impeachment against him (Shutterstock)
The attack by Donald Trump fans on the Capitol that earned the president a new impeachment against him (Shutterstock)

The former director of FBI between 2013 and 2017 is not particularly a follower or sympathizer of Trump. He was expelled from that body in May 2017. In his memoirs, the former Deputy Attorney General of the United States -under the presidency of George W. Bush– described the current president as “a compulsive liar” and behavior “gangsters”. Even in the same interview with the BBC, Comey said he believes Trump should be in prison.

I think the wisest decision would be not to pursue it.“, said Comey regarding the multiple legal cases that could be opened to Trumpbut he said whatever decision I make Biden, should be “transparent“With the American people. At the same time, the former judicial official insisted on the issue of pardon and considered that he does not know if the Republican himself would accept a presidential pardon taking into account that the Supreme Court it already established that the acceptance of the measure implied the recognition of the crime.

Former FBI Director James Comey during a presentation to the Capitol (Reuters)
Former FBI Director James Comey during a presentation to the Capitol (Reuters)

Trump became this Wednesday the first president of the United States in being subjected to impeachment twice, after the House of Representatives vote in favor of the accusation that he incited the assault on the Capitol One week ago. The final decision will now be in the hands of the Senate, which will start the process. Democrats, with a majority in the Low camera, substantiated the accusation to the president of the charge of “incitement to insurrection”And they were able to pass the Resolution 24 of “Impeachment of Donald Trump, president of the United States, for high crimes and minor offenses” by 232 votes to 197 against.

The Ford and Nixon story

Nixon became the only president of the United States who had to resign from the White House. It was in the summer of 1974 when the case known worldwide as Watergate ruined his Presidency. On the brink of impeachment and warned by Republican leaders about the imminent conviction, Nixon decided to step aside on August 9, 1974. “Leaving office before completing my term is aberrant to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put America’s interests first”, He explained in his farewell.

Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon's vice president, took office after the president's resignation over the scandalous Watergate case.  He was granted a pardon on September 8, 1974 that marked his presidency (White House)
Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon’s vice president, took office after the president’s resignation over the scandalous Watergate case. He was granted a pardon on September 8, 1974 that marked his presidency (White House)

Ford, who replaced Spiro Agnew in the vice presidency – who had resigned at the end of 1973 due to another case of corruption – was sworn in as the new president without having been elected to the position. It would be the first time in the history of U.S that that would happen. In his message of assumption he would try to bring some peace of mind to the population after the disturbances that had been experienced in recent months. “Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men”He said to begin to turn the page of that story.

A month later, on September 8, Ford executed the most difficult decision of his political career and signed the decree that gave a total pardon to Nixon for the crimes he may have committed during his participation in the scandal Watergate. The pacification and normalization of the nation was his primary objective.

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi displays the article of impeachment against US President Donald Trump after signing it at an engrossed ceremony at the US Capitol (Reuters)
Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi displays the article of impeachment against US President Donald Trump after signing it at an engrossed ceremony at the US Capitol (Reuters)

The pardon – something quite common in American politics – is a faculty of the Executive power which functions as a counterweight to the federal criminal justice system that allows a president to grant clemency to convicted persons. Usually toward the end of each term, American presidents tend to apply them. It is the Constitution itself that grants the North American president the power to “grant pardons and amnesties for grievances against the United States, except in cases of political trials”.

Even a head of state could order future pardons before charges or convictions are filed. It was the case of Ford to Nixon. Jimmy Carter also did a similar thing toward defendants of shirking their responsibilities during the war of Vietnam. Will it be the turn of Joe Biden?

MORE ON THIS TOPIC:

The United States House of Representatives voted in favor of the impeachment of Donald Trump

Echoes of 1974: Watergate, Nixon’s resignation and Ford’s pardon


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