Rumors and whispers of Richard Nixon's 'treason' -- sabotaging Vietnam peace talks to help his Presidential campaign -- have floated around for years, but newly released tapes from Lyndon Johnson's Presidency show that LBJ knew about Nixon's behavior and didn't bother to report it.
In previously released tapes from Johnson's Presidency, we had heard about Johnson having a substantial body of evidence showing Nixon schemed to keep the South Vietnamese away from the negotiating table at the 1968 Paris peace talks. Johnson recorded all of his conversations held inside the White House while he was President. (Where do you think Nixon got the idea?) Nixon was accused or dispatching Anna Chennault, a senior advisor, to convince the South Vietnamese they would get a better deal if they didn't agree to peace, effectively ending the Vietnam war, until after the U.S. Presidential election. Chennault confirmed she spoke with the Vietnamese in her autobiography, The Education of Anna, but nothing more than that. If true, the charge could amount to treason.
Which brings us to today. The BBC's David Taylor reports newly unclassified Johnson tapes, combined with unreleased interviews carried out by the BBC's former Washington correspondent Charles Wheeler with senior Johnson administration officials (before Wheeler's death), reveals new, amazing information about the scandal. In October 1968, there was a breakthrough in the Paris peace talks that would end the Vietname war. At the same time, Nixon's campaign was relying heavily on the war continuing. If a deal was reached, Johnson would halt the bombing of North Vietnam. But Nixon had Chennault convince South Vietnam that they "should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal," Taylor writes. They did on the day before Johnson was going to announce the end of the Vietnam war.
And Johnson knew about it all.