It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign.
He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser.
At a July meeting in Nixon's New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault.
In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris - concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.
Nixon sank those talks by saying the South Vietnamese would get a better deal under him, so they agreed to walk away from the table completely instead of brokering for peace. Johnson knew about it, but realized that in order to reveal Nixon's treason, that he would have had to also reveal that the FBI was bugging the South Vietnamese Ambassador, which in and of itself could have threatened any peace deal.
In one call to Senator Richard Russell he says: "We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee, our California friend, has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends both, he has been doing it through rather subterranean sources. Mrs Chennault is warning the South Vietnamese not to get pulled into this Johnson move."
He orders the Nixon campaign to be placed under FBI surveillance and demands to know if Nixon is personally involved.
When he became convinced it was being orchestrated by the Republican candidate, the president called Senator Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader in the Senate to get a message to Nixon.
The president knew what was going on, Nixon should back off and the subterfuge amounted to treason.In the end, Johnson and Humphrey decided that Humphrey could win the 1968 election without revealing Nixon's treason.
Publicly Nixon was suggesting he had no idea why the South Vietnamese withdrew from the talks. He even offered to travel to Saigon to get them back to the negotiating table.
Johnson felt it was the ultimate expression of political hypocrisy but in calls recorded with Clifford they express the fear that going public would require revealing the FBI were bugging the ambassador's phone and the National Security Agency (NSA) was intercepting his communications with Saigon.
So they decided to say nothing.
The rest, as they say, is history. Nixon won a sharply divided country, taking 301 electoral votes, with the Democrats crippled and split by Johnson's handling of Vietnam and the rise of the Dixiecrats and George Wallace in the South. The country elected "anti-war" candidate Nixon, who promptly made the war horrifically worse and got re-elected on that, then destroyed the country with Watergate.
If that sounds familiar, it echoes 2000 in my mind. What would the country have been like if Humphrey or Johnson had been President and not Nixon?
Funny how that works.