The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.
I see you haven't got the air conditioning machinery yet. [Laughter]
I think that it is needless for me to take too much time in the attempt to emphasize the importance I attach to the week through which we have just passed.
Some of you, of course, were in Geneva. You made your own conclusions as to the personalities that we met, the relationships between them, the degree of sincerity you attach to their words.
But one thing is indisputable. For one week of argument and debate that sometimes was, to say the least, intense, never once did we have a recurrence of the old method of merely talking to constituencies in terms of invective and personal abuse and nationalistic abuse. That in itself is a great gain and one that I hope we shall never lose; because certainly we are going to progress in things of the mind, in things involving policy, only if we discuss differences in objective terms, not in the terms that cause additional antagonism before you get down at all to the heart of the subject that is under discussion.
I don't mean to say that the week was one of such glowing promise that it offers almost a certainty of a new era starting now. I do say there was a beginning of this kind made, and if we are wise enough to do our part, it is just possible that something to the great benefit of man may eventuate.
Now, if I can go from great nationalistic subjects, public subjects, to something that concerns only me and my family: this may not be news, but I got home to be greeted by my daughter-in-law with the statement that if all goes well, I will be a grandfather for the fourth time next Christmas--[applause]--which, of course, was a happy ending to the week.
We will go to questions.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, in connection with you disarmament proposal, would you extend the privilege of aerial reconnaissance to atomic energy installations?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't want now to go into the complete details that would have to be worked out by professionals and technicians meeting to form the plan that would give effect to the general proposal I made.
I would say this: that everything, the blueprint of which I spoke, the layout of your military establishments, in my opinion, should be complete.
This would not necessarily involve your manufacturing and production plants; but I would certainly, under the scheme I was thinking of, place a minimum of prohibited areas. I think that I would allow these planes, properly inspected, peaceful planes, to fly over any particular area of either country that they wanted to, because only in this way could you convince them that there wasn't something over there that maybe was, by surprise, ready to attack them, you see.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, can you tell us if you see anything improper in Secretary Talbott's business activities and how you feel about his remaining on as Secretary of the Air Force?
[Chorus of "Couldn't hear it"]
THE PRESIDENT. This was a question about Secretary Talbott and the investigation that he is undergoing before the committee of Congress.
I have no objection to answering this at this moment as far as I am able. But I do warn you that it will take me a little bit of time.
First, I do not believe that any man can properly hold public office merely because he is not guilty of any illegal act; and, of course, in this case there is no charge of any illegal act.
But I believe it was in or somewhere about the end of October, early November, of 1952, I tried to explain my conception of what a public servant owed to the Government, to the people-that his actions had to be impeccable, both from the standpoint of law and from the standpoint of ethics.
So what is now involved is, was a proper standard of ethics violated?
This comes, I assume, to this particular point: was an office used improperly or was a man in an office merely trying to use his own personal influence completely divorced from his office? I assume that is the issue that the committee of Congress is now looking into.
Now, I should like to make one thing clear: those parts of Secretary Talbott's official duties with which I have come in contact have been almost brilliantly performed.
He has done, by and large, and so far as I know of these activities, exactly what I believe a Secretary of one of the armed services should do.
I suppose the world knows that for some years he has been a personal friend.
Nevertheless, my feeling at this moment, in a way, is of a bit of suspended animation. I am going to read the complete record of everything that I can find on this myself, and I will have to make final decision on the basis of the ethics involved.
Now, I would not take any action while this investigation is going on because, first of all, the investigation should be conducted while he is a public servant, and he has a perfect right to be heard in every bit of defense he can bring forward.
As far as I am concerned then, the matter is temporarily in abeyance, but it is going to be handled by myself personally.
I do want to make clear again that when I came back and heard about this, no one has intimated any suggestion of fraud or of wrongdoing in the sense of law. That is clearly out of the question.
Q. Edward Milne, Providence Journal-Bulletin: Mr. President, as a matter of principle, and not specifically in Mr. Talbott's case, because we don't yet have all the facts, how do you distinguish the office from the man in the office? What is that fine line? How do you distinguish?
THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I really am not prepared to talk about that in any length. It is a difficult one. For myself, I think the only way for a public servant is to avoid any indiscretion that even leans in that way or even gives the appearance that an office might be used. But I do want in this case to be completely just and see the whole record.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Charlotte Observer: Mr. President, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday indefinitely deferred a vote on the confirmation of Simon Sobeloff, your Solicitor General, to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
I would like to ask whether you are displeased with that delay, and if that should go through the recess of Congress, do you plan to send up a recess appointment?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you give me news; I didn't know this.
Now, as you know, Mr. Sobeloff was appointed from a judgeship to the office of Solicitor General.
In that office, I have had a number of contacts with him, and have been impressed with what I thought was his judicial type of mind. I thought he was an excellent appointment to the court.
Now, I am not going to challenge, by implication or indirection or any other way, the right of the Senate to make its thorough investigation through its committees of any nominee I send up there for any office.
I don't know what it is about, so I can't comment any further except to say I thought it was an excellent appointment.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, there is a law on the books that says Brigadier General W. W. White, who is Staff Director for Petroleum Logistics, can keep on active duty in his job and, at the same time, draw a salary as former vice president of Esso Export Corporation from his old corporation.
I wondered what you think about the administration of this law that permits a high-ranking officer to be recalled to active duty and serve over a subject that is the same as his former corporation.
THE PRESIDENT. I can't possibly comment on that one until I see the case. This is the first time I ever knew there was a special law applying to a special person. I would like to look that up. [Addresses Mr. Hagerty] Will you remember?
Q- William S. White, New York Times: Mr. President, would you care to make any forecast to us of the possibility of a ministerial level meeting with the Chinese in light of what the Secretary of State said yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I couldn't guess at this moment as to a meeting at the ministerial level.
I think you know the record of this whole project up to this moment. I read this morning Secretary Dulles' statement, so to my knowledge it is exactly accurate all the way through, what has come about, why we did raise this level of meeting, and sent Mr. Johnson to Geneva to carry it out.
Now, what will come from there, what the next step will be, I am not quite sure.
Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register and Tribune: Mr. President, there has been testimony of the SEC Chairman that Sherman Adams intervened before the SEC, which was a quasi-judicial body. Testimony was given by the Chairman on that score. The Democrats are contending that there was something improper in intervening with any quasi-judicial body.
I wondered if you looked into that and you have any comment you would like to make about it.
THE PRESIDENT. I looked into it only to this extent: I am sure that the head of the Commission has given the entire story. I understand he is back before the committee, and certainly if he has omitted any details, he should give them now.
I believe that Governor Adams has informed the Senate committee that he hasn't a single detail to add; that the story has been told and that is all there is to it.
Q. Garnett D. Homer, Washington Evening Star: In connection with the Dixon-Yates matter, and in view of the fact that the Senate Investigation Subcommittee recently brought out for the first time the part played in initiating the Dixon-Yates contract by Adolphe Wenzell of the First Boston Corporation, which corporation later became the financing agent for Dixon-Yates, in view of all of that, do you believe your directions last summer for disclosure of the complete record in the case were carried out by the agencies concerned?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I didn't know that anyone had alleged that he was the initiator because no such statement has ever been made to me.
But what I have done is this: I have gotten back Mr. Dodge who was Director of the Budget when all this was done, when the 1954, I believe, policy on this whole proposition was made, and he is going down before one of the committees. Isn't that correct? Mr. Hagerty: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT. He is going down before one of the committees with instructions to do this: to tell every possible item that has anything whatsoever to bear on Dixon-Yates, and see whether we can get the whole list of information properly coordinated and placed before the people that are investigating it.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, may we go back to the summit for a moment? Now that one of our main objectives at Geneva seems to be in the process of being achieved, namely the lessening of tensions, is there a danger that they may sag so far that they may trip our defenses, so to speak, and if so, do you have some specific proposals by which we might avoid them?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, there may be some little fear of that, but I would think that as long as the United States has such people as Secretaries Dulles and Wilson, people like Admiral Radford and our current Chiefs of Staff, people to keep us alert to all these things, I would doubt that, in fact, we would as a Government sag too far in the direction that you indicate.
Now, your question therefore must be directed towards peoples' thinking, just, "Well, we say we had a nice meeting," and so you forget that item to turn your mind to something else.
I would say scarcely so. I have a number of responses to the talk I made the other evening, and it is astonishing how many agree that what we have to do is to steer the course between never being negative but never being complacent. They agree to that.
It is a difficult thing. And you have to be watchful. But I don't believe that as long as we have people that are so ready to call our attention to those things and things of that nature we need fear much.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Papers: Mr. President, in relation to the talks with the Red Chinese in Geneva next week, Mr. Dulles said yesterday that in the talks we would make no arrangements which would prejudice the rights of the Nationalist Chinese.
My question is, how can we make any arrangements in the absence of the Nationalist Chinese?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, one of the biggest causes for this meeting is our prisoners and civilians illegally held in China. Certainly we claim that all of our prisoners captured in uniform were illegally held and only four of those have been released. There were fifteen.
The first arrangement we are concerned about is how to get them back. That doesn't involve in any respect the Nationalist Chinese.
Q. Mrs. Craig: However, sir, Mr. Dulles left the door open for almost any other kind of a discussion.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will have to learn what it is they want to discuss, just exactly as we learned at Geneva many, many things that others wanted to discuss there, but we said only those things which we, as the representatives of four governments are competent to discuss.
We couldn't determine the fate of an Arab nation or an African nation or a South American or anything else. We weren't there for that purpose.
We must find out, though, what they want to talk about. Then there would have to be a next advance; and it might be, as someone else suggested, eventually you have to go to a ministerial level of meeting to get these straightened out. I wouldn't know.
Q. Mrs. Craig: Sir, the context of his statement on arrangements was in relation to the Formosa area and not in relation to the airmen.
THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. Craig, I just will have to refer you back to the statement. You were apparently trying to interpret exactly what he meant, and you had better ask him.
Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, I believe you had a request from the copper industry to invoke the Taft-Hartley cooling-off injunction to put an end to the strike. I wondered if you were considering such action?
THE PRESIDENT. Certain telegrams on this subject came in, and they were immediately referred to the Secretary of Labor.
Of course, the right to bring that up involves, of course, always the existence or threatened existence of a national emergency, though it will take real study to determine what the situation is.
Q. Donald J. Gonzales, United Press: Did you discuss at Geneva with Soviet leaders the possibility of your visiting Russia or their coming to the United States, either socially or at an official level?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, on the agenda was the subject of liberalizing contacts. We talked a very great deal, not only about officials visiting back and forth, but increasing opportunities for citizens of each country to go more freely within the other to learn for themselves what their opposite numbers in the other country looked like, how they felt and how they lived.
In the very many personal conversations I had with these people, of course, these things never were made in forms of proposals. But opportunities were discussed in a general way--in arranging, let us say--throughout the whole echelons of Government and everything else. But they were never placed in the forms of proposals or definite suggestions.
Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, Secretary of Labor Mitchell says that he is recommending to you that you sign the dollar minimum wage which has been passed by both House and Senate.
Do you plan to accept his recommendations, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. I can't say for the moment, because he hasn't been in yet to see me. When he comes in to see me, why, I will make up my mind what to do; but he hasn't been in yet.
Q. Fletcher Knebel, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, you were quoted by congressional sources as having told the Monday meeting that Premier Bulganin jokingly said he hoped you would run again; is that correct? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I said Premier Bulganin. I said one of my Russian associates. [Laughter]
Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown Times: Sir, there are two interpretations in Congress being placed on your recommendation for 35,000 additional public housing units to be constructed in the law now before the House. One is that these would be entirely new public housing starts. The other is that these would be, as Congress approved last year, replacement units for families made homeless as a result of urban redevelopment or slum clearance projects.
Could you tell us which one is correct, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Always, one of the special definite purposes of public housing programs was to provide places for those people who were dispossessed by reason of urban redevelopment and slum clearance. I believe, and I say this with some trepidation because my memory is not always correct, I believe that it was in last year's bill that they limited it to that use.
To my mind, the limitation is unnecessary; but I don't know what is the status of the thing before Congress at this moment.
Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, while you have been away, the bus and trolley strike here has continued.
As I remember it, at the last press conference you suggested that both sides get around a table and try to thrash this thing out and reach a settlement. They haven't done so, and the prospect is that this strike will be on by the time you leave for Denver. I wonder if you had any further suggestions?
THE PRESIDENT. I really haven't at this moment, Mr. Foillard, for the simple reason I hadn't thought about it since I came back, and no one has made any reports on it.
But I do hold to this: in the long run, the managerial and labor elements in our economy must find means of resolving their own differences or our form of economy and government becomes endangered.
You can have the services of mediators, you can have all sorts of things to protect yourself in the event of grave national emergency, but by and large we must depend upon the good sense of America to meet this type of problem, and I mean the good sense of the people engaged, or we are going to have much more difficulty than we have now.
Q. John Kenton, New York Journal of Commerce: Mr. President, if we may look ahead for the moment to the next Geneva conference beginning next month on atoms for peace, there was a press conference over at the Atomic Energy Commission about 2 weeks ago at which there seemed to be a little bit of confusion over two statements that you, Mr. President, had made at two different times.
One, that our attitude toward this conference was not that we were going into a contest, and the other that we were going to put our best foot forward.
Now, the point was made that the American manufacturing concerns that are going over there to exhibit in the trade fair at Geneva are certainly going over there with the intention of trying to outsell their competitors from other countries, and we never got the point completely cleared as to whether there were any wraps other than the Atomic Energy Law of 1954 on American commercial participation in the conference.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is a little difficult to address myself to a question I don't quite understand. [Laughter]
But I do say this: we are not going over there just to show that we are better than anyone else in the world in a certain line of scientific advancement.
We are going over there to help incite the interest of all the world in this new science and how it can be helpful to mankind.
I personally went to see this part of the exhibition that we have put over there.
I said we were going to put our best foot forward. If we are going to try to help people in this regard, we are certainly not going to keep two-thirds of our scientists and our industrialists and people working on it at home, and show only one-third of what we have done and what we believe are the opening vistas in this direction.
So I say we are going to do our very best.
But we didn't enter, didn't propose or go to this thing just with the idea of contesting or putting our affairs in comparison with somebody else's.
Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, how did you get along with Marshal Zhukov?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, excellently, of course, because--I must reinforce what I have said before.
In the personal contacts of this meeting I saw nothing that violated the strictest rules of good manners and deportment. Quite naturally, Marshal Zhukov and I had the common recollections of 6 months' cooperative work in Berlin, to say nothing of a common reminiscence of the final campaigns of World War II in Europe.
Now, on top of that, he wanted to tell me things about Russia, in general, or about the Soviet Union in general, about his own life, about what is happening there. He came to the first meeting--I believe we had two hours and a half together--and I told him I would regard it quite confidentially; it would never become a part of the official records, because he visited me personally. After all, he is a Marshal, and I happen to be head of a state.
He said, "You are perfectly free to tell any part of it." He didn't come to talk in deep secrecy.
But, in general, it was to impress upon me the deep desire of the Soviets for peace.
He went into many subjects. For example, their new concept of collective leadership; it was a very interesting thing, but it was, also, an hour's conversation. And you can see some evidence of its practice--you don't have just one figure coming to an international conference, you have three or four of them constantly conferring, and apparently producing a viewpoint for the world.
But there was nothing in it except, you might say, a personal and friendly exposition of the same things that we heard in the conference, but on a larger scale.
Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register and Tribune: I hate to go back to Dixon-Yates again, but there was one thing I don't think was completely clear. There were some AEC officials, Mr. Fields and Mr. Cook, who testified that Mr. Wenzell's name was knowingly eliminated from the Dixon-Yates chronology; and, of course, they stated this was on the recommendation of the Bureau of the Budget.
I wondered if you knew anything of this, and if you did know of it, if you would like to comment on whether you thought it was important.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't intend to comment on it any more at all. I think I have given to this conference, time and again, the basic elements of this whole development, and everything that I could possibly be expected to know about it. I said Mr. Dodge, who initiated this whole thing, is going down before the committee to again begin the process of taking this thing from its inception and following it through until he turned over to Mr. Hughes; and I believe that Mr. Hughes is to be there if they want him again.
Now, they can tell the entire story, and I don't know exactly such details as that. How could I be expected to know? I never heard of it.
Q. William M. Blair, New York Times: Are you satisfied, sir, with the Reserve bill that Congress has sent to you?
THE PRESIDENT. No. At least there are one or two items that strike me as being rather thoughtlessly handled. But I haven't studied it in detail yet. I will have to look at it and I could comment on that maybe next week. I haven't studied it in detail, but I have heard of one item of differences in pay that seem incomprehensible to me.
Q. Joseph Chiang, Chinese News Service: Mr. President, do the United States Government agree to have two Chinas if they are sure there would be a peace in the world for a good while?
THE PRESIDENT. Did you say who agreed to that?
Q. Mr. Chiang: Do your Government agree to have a two Chinas .
THE PRESIDENT. The subject in that form has never been discussed that I know of, certainly I have never discussed the subject in that form with Secretary Dulles; but I don't see how it could be under present conditions.
Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's seventy-fourth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:03 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 27, 1955. In attendance: 184.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233372