“Now, I’m reading their hand Everett. I don’t want this to get in the campaign. And they oughtn’t to be doing this. This is treason.”
– President Lyndon B. Johnson
On a telephone call with Sen. Everett Dirksen, Nov. 2, 1968 [Listen]
The Chennault Affair
Nixon gave Haldeman his orders: Find ways to sabotage Johnson’s plans to stage productive peace talks, so that a frustrated American electorate would turn to the Republicans as their only hope to end the war.
Fifty years ago this year, on Oct. 31, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam in hopes of encouraging peace talks to end the Vietnam War. At the time, Johnson knew a secret. Some in the Nixon campaign were secretly communicating with the South Vietnamese Government in an effort to delay the opening of the peace talks. They offered the prospect of a better deal for South Vietnam if Nixon became president.
The gambit worked, and the Chennault Affair, named for Anna Chennault, the Republican doyenne and fundraiser who became Nixon’s back channel to the South Vietnamese government, lingered as a diplomatic and political whodunit for decades afterward.
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