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Former US president Ford dies at 93; pardoned Nixon after Watergate

[JURIST] Former US President Gerald R. Ford [official profile; Ford Library timeline] died [official memorial website] Tuesday at the age of 93. A 1941 Yale Law School graduate who became GOP House Minority Leader during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, he eventually became Vice-President and then the 38th president of the United States in 1974, taking over after predecessor Richard Nixon became the first president in US history to resign his office [JURIST This Day report] in the wake of the Watergate scandal. One of Ford's first and most controversial official acts was his pardon [JURIST This Day report; Proclamation 4311 text] of Nixon before any formal criminal charges had been filed, a move speculated to have cost Ford the 1976 presidential; election won by Jimmy Carter. Ford also authorized a conditional amnesty program [Executive Order 11803 text] for Vietnam War deserters and draft-evaders which waived any charges provided they agreed to work two years in public service. The Presidential Clemency Board created to administer the program disposed of 14,514 cases, though critics said the initiative did not go far enough, however, as only about 19 percent of eligible persons even applied.

In a statement late Tuesday, President Bush praised Ford, saying he "helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the Presidency." AP has more.

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