Richard M. Nixon initially opposed a pardon by President Gerald R. Ford a month after resigning in 1974, even though special prosecutor Leon Jaworski supported the move, Nixon's Watergate-era lawyer said today.
Herbert "Jack" Miller, a lawyer Nixon hired to negotiate the Watergate tapes controversy, spoke publicly for the first time in 25 years on Ford's pardon at a forum sponsored by the Duquesne University School of Law.
Ken Gormley, a Duquesne law professor who wrote a biography of Jaworski's predecessor, Archibald Cox, moderated the forum. Gormley said it was the first time Miller had revealed that Nixon initially opposed a pardon for any federal crimes that may have been committed in office, including any connected to the Watergate break-in.
"His initial reaction was that he did not want a pardon, he did not favor a pardon," said Miller, who said he had spoken to Nixon's family before attending the forum. "He felt that if he had done something wrong, let him be indicted and go to trial."
Miller said he managed to persuade Nixon to accept the pardon only after convincing him he could not receive a fair trial.
Ford pardoned Nixon a month after succeeding him, on Sept. 8, 1974. Nixon had not been indicted or convicted of any crime.
Miller said Jaworski, who died in 1982, told him he would not challenge the pardon "and was in favor of it" as a way to bring the investigation of Nixon to rest.