Does Nixon intentionally derailing Vietnam peace negotiations in the run up to the 1968 elections constitute treason?

Nixon campaign ... sought to block a peace treaty in what one long-term Washington insider called "activities ... beyond the bounds of justifiable political combat." [Anna Chennault] arranged the contact with South Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem whom Richard Nixon met in secret in July 1968 in New York.... Republicans advised Saigon to refuse participation in the talks, promising a better deal once elected.

PS. See also Nixon’s alleged treason 1968.

1 Answer 1



Treason is defined in Section 3 of Article III of the United States Constitution:

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, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Nixon did not levy war on the United States. Nixon did not adhere to the enemies of the United States (a term that means those against whom a declaration of war has been made). And, Nixon did not give aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States in the sense described. He met with the South Vietnamese Ambassador, our ally, not the North Vietnamese ambassador.

How to make peace in order to end a war is a matter in the sole discretion of the President.

  • Thanks! Do you think it was some other felony? The action seems pretty gruesome, especially considering the consequences...
    – sds
    Aug 22, 2017 at 1:32
  • @sds Probably not. There are now laws against conducting foreign policy on behalf of the U.S. without the consent of the government, but I don't know if they existed in 1968.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 22, 2017 at 1:34
  • Thanks again! So, he did not violate the Logan act because S.Vn had no "dispute" with the US. Same 18 U.S. Code § 953 - Private correspondence with foreign governments. No dispute. What law are you talking about?
    – sds
    Aug 22, 2017 at 1:39
  • The key language of 18 USC 953 is "in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States" which is a fairly close call. But, since that statute was on the books starting in 1948, it might apply.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 22, 2017 at 1:43
  • 1
    How to make peace in order to end a war is a matter in the sole discretion of the President. This doesn't make sense, because Nixon was not yet president.
    – user3392
    Dec 10, 2018 at 18:49

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