But the justification for a pardon can also be grounded in a higher purpose. The 73 million Americans who voted to re-elect Trump two weeks ago will be just as angry about a good faith federal investigation of Trump after he has left office as Democrats were angry about Trump’s baseless chant to lock up his former political opponents.

Right now, even after the Trump presidency that Americans believe was divisive, polls suggest that enormous numbers of Americans still believe that we have more in common with one another than what separates us. There is an opportunity to rediscover our common ground with one another — and the way forward does not involve relitigating the last four years in federal criminal court.

Like Ford, pardoning his predecessor will subject Biden to intense, scathing criticism.

A Biden pardon of Trump, like the pardoning of former President Richard Nixon 46 years ago, would be intended to heal the nation and foreclose the possibility of an ongoing cycle of retribution after political parties change control of the government.