Recent Flexing of Presidential Powers Had Personal Roots in Ford White House

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This year’s annual gathering of Gerald R. Ford administration alumni took place in June at the National Archives, where graying former officials socialized near a display of the Constitution.

Mingling with the retirees were two men still very much in power: Dick Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, each of whom had served under Mr. Ford as White House chief of staff.

The setting had an apt symbolism. Since taking office as part of the Bush administration in 2001, both Vice President Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld, who stepped down as defense secretary this month, have consciously sought to restore what they see as the constitutional powers of the presidency, which they believe were severely eroded under President Richard M. Nixon and President Ford. Some of their colleagues from three decades ago — evidently including Mr. Ford — have wondered if they have gone too far....

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