This story originally appeared in the December 17, 1973, issue of U.S.News & World Report.
Q Mr. Ford, as a Vice President who was not elected by the people, do you think this will hamper or inhibit you in any way in your performance in office?
A I see no reason why it should. As a matter of fact, it's quite possible that, with the kind of investigation that I went through, I have taken office with a cleaner bill of health than some people who might have been chosen in the traditional way.
Q Are you referring to the investigation that preceded your confirmation by Congress? How intensive was it?
A The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent 70 agents into Grand Rapid, Mich., my home town, for a week. That was in addition to the FBI's regular force of about 10 people in that office. Across the nation, I am told, the FBI used a total of about 350 agents to look into my affairs.
There was a good reason for a big force, because there was a great deal of pressure to get this massive investigation completed as quickly as possible. As you might imagine, the impact on a town the size of Grand Rapids was very substantial.
As for my finances, four FBI auditors spend several days checking my income-tax returns. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service also sent in three auditors who checked my income-tax returns, going back seven years. They came up with a list of about 120 items that were in some dispute. We cleared up all but one in my favor. Frankly, I would have contested that one except that I didn't consider it worth the trouble. I ended up paying $435.27.
In addition to that, of course, the House Committee on the Judiciary went to the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation and asked some of their people to go to my accountant—a certified public accountant—for another examination. They took all of my check stubs from my two personal accounts and three business accounts, reconstructing a cash-flow chart for the past seven years. They came up with, really, nothing unusual at all.
I agree it was necessary to conduct such an investigation. I don't think the public or the Congress would have been satisfied otherwise.
Q Do you think that, in the future, it might be a good ideal for all presidential and vice-presidential candidates to undergo such an investigation before an election?
A If it were practical, I think it would be good for a presidential candidate and a vice-presidential candidate to go through this kind of scrutiny. But with the nominating and electing process that we have, I don't think it would be feasible.
Can you imagine a Republican nominee going before a committee controlled by Democrats—or vice-versa? I don't think it would work satisfactorily.
Q Will you spend more time working on relations with Congress than Vice President Spiro Agnew did?
A I hope so. That's what the President wants me to do. I think that was the major reason he selected me. Particularly with [White House aid] Melvin Laird probably leaving his job in the future, I think somebody has to assume that responsibility. Mel has been a great help in that area and I think the Administration needs that kind of liaison very badly. I wish Mel would stay, because it's a big enough job for two or more people.
Working with Congress will certainly be my major responsibility, as I see it.
Q Is it the plan that you would help sell President's program to Congress?
A I don't think "selling the President's program" is quite the right way to put it. You must start with the assumption that there are some differences between the President's program and what a majority of the Democrats in the House or Senate might want. I would hope that I could get into the formulation of legislation at an early stage so that at the subcommittee or committee level and on the floor we could avoid polarization, so we could avoid situations where a presidential veto became necessary, followed by a congressional sustaining of the veto, and at that point have to go back and start the whole legislating process all over.