Former President Gerald R. Ford acknowledged in an interview last year that his long personal friendship with Richard Nixon did indeed play a role in his decision to pardon the disgraced former president, The Washington Post reported.
"I looked upon him as my personal friend. And I always treasured our relationship. And I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon, because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn't want to see my real friend have the stigma," Ford told Post reporter Bob Woodward, according to a story in the paper Thursday night.
Ford's remarks, which he asked not be released until his death, add to the rationale for pardoning Nixon a month after he resigned as president in 1974. Ford had claimed that he issued the pardon to allow the nation to move past Watergate and begin a time of healing, not for personal reasons, the AP said.
Nixon and Ford had been acquainted since the late 1940s, but the depth of their friendship was not widely known. Nixon confided in Ford and sought his help during the Watergate crisis when Ford was House minority leader, the Post reported.
"I think that Nixon felt I was about the only person he could really trust on the Hill," Ford told Woodward. He also called himself Nixon's "only real friend."