Leonard B. Boudin, former defense counsel for Daniel Ellsberg '52, said last night that President Ford's pardon of Nixon for Watergate-related crimes was "irrational" and that the House Judiciary Committee made a "serious error" in avoiding impeachment proceedings after former President Richard M. Nixon's resignation.
"Assuming the president can acquit himself, can the president also designate a successor who will eventually pardon him?" Boudin asked before an audience of 150 at the Law School.
He also criticized Ford for failing to cite the crimes he was pardoning.
Boudin noted that a pardon had been granted during the Civil War for offenses specifically relating to the Confederate rebellion but that the Nixon pardon did not specify any type of offense.
He said Ford's original suggestion of a pardon for all Watergate offenders was "logical" because such a pardon would specify offenses. However, he said the American people would not accept such a broad measure to "wash Watergate down the drain."
Nixon's "peculiar paranoia" made him decide to move the case against Ellsberg for his release of top-secret Pentagon Papers into the "court of public opinion," Boudin said.
"Ellsberg led to Watergate and helped in the undermining of the President," he said.
Boudin said that the September 1971 burglarizing of Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office by Nixon staff members led to the government's "rare move" of bringing the Pentagon Papers case into the public limelight as justification for future illicit governmental inquiry.