Some Would Call This Treason

In 1968, GOP presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon conspired with a foreign government to scuttle the Paris Peace Talks and the election of his Democratic opponent Vice President Hubert H Humphrey.

From the FBI wiretaps, (President Lydon B.) Johnson quickly learned about the role of Nixon campaign official (and right-wing China Lobby figure) Anna Chennault contacting South Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United States Bui Diem regarding the political importance for President Thieu’s continued boycott of the Paris peace talks.

After reading these secret FBI cables, Johnson began working the phones to counter the Nixon campaign’s gambit. According to recordings of the phone calls that have since been declassified, Johnson complained to Senate Republican Leader Everett Dirksen about the subterfuge.

On Nov. 2, just three days before the election, an angry Johnson telephoned Dirksen at 9:18 p.m., to provide details about Nixon’s activities and to urge Dirksen to intervene forcefully.

“The agent [Chennault] says she’s just talked to the boss in New Mexico and that he said that you [South Vietnam] must hold out, just hold on until after the election,” Johnson said. “We know what Thieu is saying to them out there. We’re pretty well informed at both ends.” [Johnson believed “the boss in New Mexico” was Nixon’s running mate, Spiro Agnew, who was there on a campaign trip.]

Johnson then injected a thinly veiled threat to go public. “I don’t want to get this in the campaign,” Johnson said, adding: “They oughtn’t be doing this. This is treason.”

Johnson continued: “I think it would shock America if a principal candidate was playing with a source like this on a matter of this importance. I don’t want to do that [go public]. They ought to know that we know what they’re doing. I know who they’re talking to. I know what they’re saying.”

Article III. of the Constitution of the United States, Section 110:

“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason.”

Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, July 27, 2016:

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras during a news conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

By his own words.

From William Inboden, who served on the NSC during the George W. Bush administration and is now a professor at the University of Texas called Trump’s comments “tantamount treason.”

Trump’s appeal for a foreign government hostile to the United States to manipulate our electoral process is not an assault on Hillary Clinton, it is an assault on the Constitution

George Little, a former Pentagon and CIA spokesman:

This is absolutely a national security issue, and it is yet another vivid example of Trump’s complete lack of foreign policy experience. His campaign’s disturbing coziness with Russia was already a worrying head-scratcher, and this latest episode of recklessness profoundly underscores that very real concern. [..]

It’s bad enough he doesn’t understand the gravity of what he said, but that he’s giving encouragement to a hostile foreign power is unconscionable,” Nichols said. “I don’t think he’s joking. He doubled down on it. Once off the cuff, it’s a joke. Twice, it’s policy.