September 8 - 1974 - The Pardon of Richard Nixon
President Gerald Ford did not grant a pardon to his predecessor, Richard Nixon, for any specific crime. Instead, Nixon was granted a pardon for "any and all crimes" he may have committed during his time as President. In reality, Richard Nixon was being pardoned for his involvement in the break-in to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Complex during the 1972 Presidential Election and its subsequent cover-up. Nixon had not been indicted on any charges, but there were Congressional investigations and when the "Smoking Gun Tape," an audio recording where Nixon discussed the cover up with Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, was revealed, Nixon chose to resign rather than be impeached and removed from office. This thrust Ford into the Presidency, after he had been elevated to the Vice Presidency due to the resignation of Spiro Agnew. Ford's Pardon was done, in his explanation to the country, so that the Watergate investigations could finally and fully end. While they did stop, the stain of Watergate never went away, and Ford's pardon, on top of the Watergate scandal more generally, cost Republicans in the 1974 Midterm elections and Ford in the 1976 Presidential election.