Did Richard Nixon commit treason? Some evidence to that effect has been around for years, specifically in regard to what’s become known as the Chennault Affair. According to the theory, Anna Chennault — a Chinese-American Republican insider — sabotaged Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to strike a peace deal in Vietnam in October of 1968, and she did so at the direct request of the soon-to-be 37th President.
The purported goal of this treasonous act was to keep the Democrats from scoring a major coup just weeks before the election showdown between Nixon and his Democratic opponent, Hubert Humphrey. Now, John Farrell’s exhaustive new biography Richard Nixon: The Life, presents the Chennault Affair as more than a theory. Farrell substantiates the charges of Nixon’s treachery with a slew of new facts, many drawn from a newly unearthed stash of notes written by Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman.
It’s bombshell stuff. It’s also just one of the book’s many revelations. Pulling from recently uncovered diaries, secret reports, and the recorded words of everyone from Nixon aide John Dean to his second White House Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, Farrell fills in the cracks and credibly bolsters a range of allegations about Nixon — that he courted favor with white segregationists, that wiretapping electoral adversaries had been in his game plan since the1940s, and that his defining scandal of Watergate was no anomaly, but the last piece in a decades-long pattern of covert, illegal political machinations. In one especially illuminating chapter, Farrell lifts a rock off of Nixon’s 1946 congressional campaign against Democrat Jerry Voorhis in California, uncovering a squirming nest of graft, espionage, and backdoor corporate dealings.
Feature image: By Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons