O'Neill Says Confirmation Of Gerald Ford Is Likely
House Majority Leader Thomas P. O'Neill (D-Mass.) predicted yesterday that Vice President-designate Gerald R. Ford, Jr. (R-Mich.) will be confirmed by the Congress even though there are grounds for the impeachment of President Nixon.
"Gerry Ford has been in the House for 25 years, and although he is part and parcel of the Nixon philosophy, he has accomplished leadership in the Republican Party and he has been able to do the job for which he stands," O'Neill said yesterday.
"It would be wrong not to confirm Ford," O'Neill continued. "A Republican administration was elected in 1972 for a four-year period. To deprive them of that victory would be terrible."
O'Neill said that the country should abide by the guidelines of the 25th amendment to the Constitution. That amendment says nothing about not confirming presidential designates," he said.
O'Neill estimated that 70 per cent of the Democratic caucus, including Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and Speaker of the House Carl Albert (D-Okla.), agree that the vice presidency should not be kept open pending the outcome of impeachment proceedings.
"There are ground for impeachment, but the days of lynching are over and some people are calling for the lynching of Richard Nixon," he said.
O'Neill said that he believes that former Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox '34 was in the process of uncovering incriminating evidence against the president. O'Neill called Nixon's dismissal of Cox an "obstruction of justice."
O'Neill said that this evidence will be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee. He introduced a resolution last week directing the committee to inquire into and investigate whether grounds exist for the impeachment of the president.
A staff aide for O'Neill said yesterday that as of Friday, the congressman had received 3000 letters and phone calls from constituents who are opposed to impeachment.
"I don't think the truly great men in our history ever cultivated such a vanity to such a degree," one citizen wrote. "In large measure, congressman, American history is now turning to you, whether you like it or not."
One registered Republican wrote, "I have had enough....Impeach Nixon now. This man has simply done too much that goes beyond the bounds of the law."
An O'Neill aide said that these letters accurately reflect the sentiments of "nearly all" eighth district constituents.