As President Richard Nixon entered his last stretch in office, dogged by an ever-expanding scandal, he could still count on stalwart supporters like Rev. Billy Graham.
On April 6, 1973 — the very day that White House Counsel John Dean started cooperating with Watergate prosecutors, a development that would ultimately seal Nixon’s political doom — Graham wrote to the embattled president, comparing Nixon’s travails to those of a major biblical figure.
“I have marveled at your restraint as the rumors fly about Watergate,” Graham wrote Nixon. “King David had the same experience. He said: ‘They accuse me of things I have never even heard about. I do them good but they return me harm.’ (Psalm 35: 11-12).”
The supportive letter was emblematic of Graham’s communications with Nixon. It appeared, with many others, in an extensive “alphabetical name file” compiled by the Nixon administration to catalogue contacts with or about Graham.
The Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, Calif., recently released the file. Some of the hundreds of papers, which fill eight folders, have been disclosed before. Others are only now going public.
When read together in this collection, which includes everything from informal personal notes to internal memos from the White House, National Security Council and State Department, the documents detail the depth of the alliance between two American icons as they navigated a difficult era together. And a key former Nixon aide’s memories help put the disclosures in context.
Among the new revelations are details on just how early Graham came to Nixon’s political aid, how the reverend helped the president manage the fallout from the Kent State massacre, the degree to which the White House deployed Graham on foreign missions, and Graham’s behind-the-scenes role as a political counselor to the president.Read the full article