October 13, 1972 – Bubbling Peace, Brewing Scandal
October 13, 1972; a lot happening that didn’t seem all that earth shattering at the time, but which wound up becoming game changers in our country’s history.
News began with the Peace efforts over the Vietnam War and the major obstacles blocking a settlement. For the previous several days there was speculation that the private peace talks in Paris may bring successful results and an end to the war by election day. But there were obstacles. As the White House reported, National Security Advisers Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig held a breakfast briefing with President Nixon and Secretary of State Rogers on their return from this latest round of discussions with North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho. Without elaborating details, it was disclosed there were a number of difficulties. Most notably, discussions of how to go about forming a new government in South Vietnam, which in essence meant; who would run the government? It was suggested by Hanoi that a coalition government be set up, and that the current government be abandoned. Word of this reached Saigon and South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu which made Thieu very nervous. Reportedly, Haig assured Thieu that he wasn’t being sold out, but Thieu reportedly recalled his Ambassador to Washington for consultation, sensing there was writing on the wall and it ultimately didn’t include him.
Despite intensification of the Peace talks, there were still no overt signs of a settlement. And with no concrete information coming from the White House, there was no way of knowing how much domestic politics had to do with the accelerated pace of the negotiations.
The other growing-in-intensity news came via the Watergate break-in Trial, which Attorney General Richard Kleindienst was reported to have said he would like to see the trial over by Election day. Democrats charged that the trial of the men, reportedly accused of breaking into the Democratic Party Headquarters in Washington was delayed by the Republican administration for political reasons. In related news, a Miami, Florida Judge ordered two leaders of President Nixon’s re-election campaign and a big contributor to the campaign to appear before a trial there. The three were Maurice Stans, Hugh Sloane and Kenneth Dahlberg. The trial is of Bernard Barker, one of the men caught inside the Watergate during the break-in. The Miami trial of Barker concerned the fraudulent use of his position as a Notary Public in the handling of Republican campaign funds. The White House was accused of trying to obstruct the trial. Florida State Attorney Richard Gerstein said the Justice Department had refused, so far, to hand over the one piece of evidence central to the case; a $25,000 Nixon campaign check, falsely notarized in florida and cashed by Watergate defendant Bernard Barker. Gerstein filed extradition papers in Washington for Stans, Sloane and Dahlberg to ensure the appearance of the man who signed the check and the Nixon finance Chief and former Campaign treasurer. The trial was expected to open on October 30th.
And that’s a little of what went on, this October 13, 1972 as reported by NBC Nightly News.