Nixon indicted in weeks had Ford not moved 12 Sep 74
Jaworski Was Set to Move It '4's BY JACK ANDERSON WASHINGTON Special Watergate Prosecutor Prosecutor Leon Jaworski would have sought an indictment against former President Nixon "in a matter of weeks," according to sources familiar with the plans, if President Ford hadn't intervened with a pardon. These sources say the special prosecutor intended intended to indict Nixon solely for obstruction of " justice. Jaworski be--J be--J be--J be--J lieved he had "an iron-dad iron-dad iron-dad case" against the former president and would get an "almost! certain conviction," our! The case would have Anderson been based heavily upon Nixon's own tapes, which provide prima-facie prima-facie prima-facie evidence that he participated in the Watergate cover-up. cover-up. cover-up. Ja-worski's Ja-worski's Ja-worski's deputy, James Neal, had already arranged for Secret Service technicians to testify about the taping system. Our sources describe Jaworski as a man with a deep faith in the judicial processes. They say he simply could not ignore the verdict of the House Judiciary Committee, which voted unanimously to impeach Nixon for obstruction of justice, nor the will of the Watergate grand jury, which voted 19 to 0 to name him as an unindkted coconspirator. coconspirator. The grand jury would have indicted him last March if Jaworski had not counseled that a sitting president couldn't be legally indicted. The threat of indictment hung over the former president like Damocles' sword. Sources who have had access to him in his seclusion at San Clemente describe him as "totally weary, terribly depressed and completely completely despondent." All sources agree that he has complete control of his faculties, although his conversation conversation sometimes wanders and his nerves seem frayed. The main cause of Nixon's anguish, according according to our sources, was the expectation that Jaworski would ask the grand jury to indict him. The distraught Nixon even developed developed a strange inability to repeat Jawor-ski's Jawor-ski's Jawor-ski's name. We have established that President Ford learned of Nixon's mental state and imminent imminent indictment. White House sources say the president feared the indictment could cause his predecessor a nervous'breakdown. Here are the other reasons, which finally persuaded the president to move quickly to grant Nixon a "full, free and absolute" pardon: Ford's legal advisers, Philip Buchen and Benton Becker, determined that a pardon pardon was the president's prerogative and had nothing to do with equal justice. Lyndon Johnson granted less than 200 pardons during during his five years in the White House, for example, while Harry Truman issued about 200 pardons a year. People have been pardoned pardoned for crimes that kept others in prison. Buchen and Becker advised Ford, therefore, that the Nixon pardon would not affect the criminal cases against H. R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell and the other alleged conspirators. The president's lawyers came up with a quote from Alexander Hamilton who, writing in The Federalist, declared: "There are critical mornents when a well-timed well-timed well-timed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquility of the commonwealth." commonwealth." Buchen and Becker also contended there was no evidence Nixon had advance knowledge of the Watergate break-in. break-in. break-in. He was guilty merely of covering it up in order to avoid political embarrassment In the middle of the 1972 presidential campaign. The president and his advisers also took into account Nixon's 28 years of political political service, the last 24 under a national microscope. As one aide mused, "This is a terrible way to go after such long service."