[Author’s Note: This post is part of the 7 part series Conspiracy Check. The series factchecks the claims of Liberal commentator Thom Hartmann concerning allegations of fraud and treason during 5 presidential elections.]
Hartmann’s next tale of intrigue was that Nixon sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 Peace talks between North and South Vietnam to end the Vietnam War. Hartmann said that Nixon did this by telling the South Vietnamese that they would get a better deal if he was elected president. The failure of the peace process hurt the Democratic candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and helped Nixon win the election. Hartmann used audio soundbites from President Johnson’s phone conversations discussing what he believed was Nixon’s “Treason” with Senator Dirksen and with Nixon himself. These audio tapes were released by the Johnson presidential library in 2008.
On this conspiracy, Hartmann is entirely correct. Journalist Robert Parry, who helped uncover the Iran-Contra scandal, has written extensively about Nixon’s sabotage of the peace talks. Parry has compiled the evidence for Nixon’s sabotage at the news site consortiumnews.com
Johnson knew about the operation partially as a result of wiretaps on the South Vietnamese embassy and on individuals in contact with them.
The ambassador for South Vietnam in the United States in 1968 was Dui Diem. In his memoir In the Jaws of History Diem described a meeting he had with Nixon along with his campaign advisor John Mitchell and Anna Chennault, who would act as a messenger between the Nixon campaign and South Vietnamese officials, including Diem. Diem also published two messages he had sent to South Vietnam.
“Many Republican friends have contacted me and encouraged us to stand firm. They were alarmed by press reports to the effect that you had already softened your position.”
“I am regularly in touch with the Nixon entourage.”
Nguyen Tien Hung, an advisor to South Vietnamese President Thieu, was coauthor of “The Palace File.” The book includes detailed interviews with Thieu and Chennault. The Palace File reported that Chennault was in contact with Thieu and his brother.
Chennault confirmed that she had been a courier between the Nixon Campaign and South Vietnam in her own Memoir, “The Education of Anna.” She also said that Mitchell had told her, “Anna, I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you have made that clear to them.” [Source: Robert Parry’s book America’s Stolen Narrative (page 52)]
This incident does confirm Hartmann’s point that a major scandal involving a presidential campaign (and future president) can go unknown by the press and the public.