Shortly after a haggard-looking Hillary Clinton made her first public appearance since the election, Jesse Jackson called for President Obama to issue a blanket pardon to Hillary Clinton before he leaves office, just like Ford did for Richard Nixon. Speaking at President Gerald Ford's alma mater, while stopping short of saying Clinton did anything wrong, Jackson told a large crowd of University of Michigan students, faculty and administrators gathered at daylong celebration of his career that Obama should short-circuit President-elect Donald Trump's promised attempt to prosecute Hillary Clinton for use of a private e-mail server.
"It would be a monumental moral mistake to pursue the indictment of Hillary Clinton," Jackson said and added that issuing the pardon could help heal the nation. In 1974, Ford, a University of Michigan alumnus, issued a full and complete pardon of Nixon for any crimes he may have committed. He said the pardon was in the best interests of the nation.
"President Ford said we don't need him for trophy. We need to move on. President Nixon wasn't convicted of a crime. He didn't apply for a pardon. (Ford) did it because he thought it would be best for the country.
"Hillary Clinton has not been tried, but there are those who want to drag her for the next three years. It will not stop until they find a reason to put her in jail. That would be a travesty." Of course, if Hillary is found to have broken the law, there is another word for putting her in jail: justice.
Jackson's comments came after he dropped in on an anti-Trump rally held by students on campus. According to the Detroit Free Press, there have been anti-Trump marches on U-M's campus, along with campuses across the nation. A large demonstration marched through a series of U-M buildings even while Jackson was speaking.
Taking the side of the protesters, Jackson said that students "are growing up in an America that is in an identity crisis," Jackson said. "These demonstrations are born out of fear. Fear that the Klan will ride again. Fear that violence (against minorities) is coming back." The reverend did not comment about the anti-Trump protests which escalated into riots sporadically in cities like Oakland and Portland.
Earlier in the day, in a conversation with the Free Press, Jackson he blamed Trump for the environment of fear. "Donald Trump saw an America that was a dry field, and instead of watering it to get the grass growing again, he threw a lit match on it", Jackson said.
"The one who set the field afire must be the one to put it out," he told the Free Press in a one-on-one interview. "He had the option to pour water on it (the dry field) and let it grow. He didn't do that — he chose to light it on fire. One of my concerns is that we see the division in America now because of that. We see classmates, roommates in a conflict over the way the campaign turned out.
"He knows Mexicans didn't take jobs from us. It was the corporations. He knows you can't deport 15 million (immigrants). It's not just about the adults, but also about the children who were born here, grew up here and go to school here."
Jackson encouraged students to keep protesting and not to give up the struggle.
"Students, don't let them take your hope. Deep water doesn't drown you. You drown because you stop kicking. There is a tug of war for the soul of America. Do we want to be an aristocracy or a democracy? To be silent is to betray your conscience. You must not be silent in the face of violation of human rights."