Letter to the President Recommending Suspension of Anti-Trust Proceedings.
Dear Mr. President:
The undersigned have been considering for some time the problem presented by the fact that some of the pending court investigations, suits, and prosecutions under the anti-trust statutes by the Department of Justice, if continued, will interfere with the production of war materials.
In the present all-out effort to produce quickly and uninterruptedly a maximum amount of weapons of warfare, such court investigations, suits, and prosecutions unavoidably consume the time of executives and employees of those corporations which are engaged in war work. In those cases we believe that continuing such prosecutions at this time will be contrary to the national interest and security. It is therefore something which we seek to obviate as quickly as possible.
On the other hand we all wish to make sure: 1. That no one who has committed a violation of law shall escape ultimate investigation and prosecution; 2. That no such person shall even now be permitted to postpone investigation or prosecution under a false pretext that his undivided time is necessary to the war effort—in other words that it must be preponderantly clear that the progress of the war effort is being impeded; and, 3. That no one who has sought actually to defraud the Government shall obtain any postponement of investigation or prosecution in any event.
Accordingly we have worked out the following procedure, subject to your approval.
Each pending and future Federal court investigation, prosecution, or suit under the anti-trust laws will be carefully studied and examined as soon as possible by the Attorney General, and the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy respectively. If the Attorney General and the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy come to the conclusion that the court investigation, prosecution, or suit will not seriously interfere with the all-out prosecution of the war, the Attorney General will proceed. If they agree that it will interfere; or if after study and examination they disagree, then, upon receipt of a letter from the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy stating that in his opinion the investigation, suit, or prosecution will seriously interfere with the war effort, the Attorney General will abide by that decision and defer his activity in that particular matter, providing, however, that he shall have the right, in such event, to lay all the facts before the President, whose determination, of course, shall be final. In each case the action finally taken will be made public.
'The deferment or adjournment of the investigation, suit, or prosecution will not, however, mean the exoneration of the individual or corporation, or the discontinuance of the proceeding. As soon as it appears that it will no longer interfere with war production, the Attorney General will proceed.
To make sure that no one escapes by the running of the statute of limitations, we shall request Congress to pass an appropriate extension of the statute.
Under no circumstances will there be any suspension or postponement of prosecution for any actual fraud committed against the Government.
We feel that this arrangement will adequately protect the public interest.
FRANCIS BIDDLE, Attorney General
HENRY L. STIMSON, Secretary of War
FRANK KNOX, Secretary of the Navy
THURMAN ARNOLD, Assistant Attorney General, in charge of Anti-Trust Division
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter to the President Recommending Suspension of Anti-Trust Proceedings. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210496