Why Nixon’s Pardon Set A Bad Precedent

The parting shot we usually see of Richard Nixon is of him boarding a military helicopter, hands raised with big smile. Coming from him, his hand gesture was far more likely a “V for Victory” as opposed to a peace sign which gained popularity during the resistance to the Vietnam War. His wife Pat had gone ahead, Nixon boarded and turned with his big wave, followed by his daughter Tricia and her husband. That morning, President Nixon officially signed his letter of resignation, he said good-bye to his staff, and boarded the helicopter with new President Gerald Ford and many officials on the White House lawn, waving him off.

Less than a month later, President Ford issued a full pardon for “any crimes Richard Nixon may have committed,” so that “the country may heal.” Given that precedent, the only deterrent to any future President contemplating any future crimes… is the embarrassment of having to leave office. Taking a nationally televised perp-walk, with all their wealth intact. What happens when the President has no shame?

Whatever you may think of Nixon, he did through his attorneys agree to accept subpoenas from the Supreme Court and handed over his secret recordings of conversations in the Oval Office. When confronted by Senate Republicans informing him he “didn’t have the votes” to fend off an Impeachment guilty verdict, he resigned rather than subject the nation to the ordeal. He ultimately recognized the authority of the other branches of government to perform their duties. With Donald Trump, there is no reason to believe he will adhere to any subpoenas whether to testify before a grand jury or provide any documents requested by the courts. The President has already nominated a Supreme Court Justice who believes a sitting President shouldn’t be investigated for crimes and gives wide deference to Executive Power. If anyone is relying on shame to deter any self-serving actions to avoid justice by this President, they must not know Donald Trump.

We keep saying in our country that, “No man is above the law.” There is evidence to the contrary that the very rich often avoid punishment for their crimes and the apparent guaranteed way to avoid justice is to become President. It seems clear that the Mueller investigation is investigating potential financial crimes committed long before Trump’s election. He has the taxes Trump never intended to show America, he has witnesses to the business affairs of the Trump Organization including secret tapes made by Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. There is documentation of Trump payoff’s to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen MacDougal. These are only some of the things we know Mueller has.

A man of few values that aren’t highly flexible, we know by his immigration policy where Trump has stripped children from their families, some permanently. Trump believes in the value of a deterrent. A world in which the worst thing that could happen is that he gets to play more golf and do less work is no reason not to commit crimes. There needs to be a credible threat of jail time for this and any President that commits crimes, including those committed before attaining office as becoming President shouldn’t become literally a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. It would also rein in Presidents that might consider committing crimes while in office. The penalty should be much harsher than no longer having to do one of the hardest jobs in the world.

In the event Donald Trump resigns, with the promise of a full pardon for “any crimes he may have committed.” He won’t slink off quietly into the next phase of his life. He’ll leave on a Trump branded helicopter, phone in hand ready to tweet divisive messages and ensure the good of the nation is not a consideration.

I write about politics, history, education, and race. Follow me at williamfspivey.com and support me at https://ko-fi.com/williamfspivey0680