Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

December 09, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no announcements to make this morning. If you have any questions you think I can answer, I will be glad to try to answer them.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, there's lots being made up on the Hill over some reported secret papers of the State Department stolen. These papers are now figuring quite voluminously in the Communist investigation. Do you know of any reason why those papers, dating back to the late thirties should not be made public now?

THE PRESIDENT. That matter is in the hands of the Attorney General and the courts. I have no comment to make on that.

Q. Mr. President, there does seem to be indisputable evidence, despite all the bizarre aspects of the case, that highly secret and confidential documents were stolen from the State Department files--taken out long enough to be microfilmed and then put back in the State Department files. Do you think, sir, that all our arms of Government should be used to find out if possible who stole those documents?

THE PRESIDENT. Why certainly. The Attorney General will do that. It is in his hands.

Q. Mr. President, last night at the night hearing, Acting Chairman Mundt1 accused the administration of being a "do-nothing" administration. Would you care--

THE PRESIDENT. That's a "me too" proposition.

1Representative Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota, Acting Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Q. A what proposition?

THE PRESIDENT. A "me too" proposition.

Q. Mr. President, have you given any instructions to the Department of Justice on this case?

THE PRESIDENT. The Department of Justice has had standing instructions on the whole thing, ever since it started.

Q. What were those instructions, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. It's what the Attorney General's duties are, to enforce the law.

Q. I thought, sir, you meant they had instructions from you?

THE PRESIDENT. No. Of course the Attorney General discussed the matter with me at various times, and he has of course had instructions to enforce the law.

Q. Mr. President, do you still feel that this--as you did during the late summer, that this congressional investigation has the aspects of a "red herring"?

THE PRESIDENT. That's what the people thought.

Q. Do you think so now, sir?


Q. After these revelations that the documents were stolen?

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly do. If they were in dead earnest, they would have taken this matter to the Attorney General and let him go ahead with the prosecution. They aren't prosecuting anybody, they are just making headlines.

Q. Mr. President, the committee members said they have repeatedly taken action with the Attorney General in all of its aspects.

THE PRESIDENT. That's not what the Attorney General said.

Q. Mr. President, are you at all interested in this charge of Mr. Nixon's,1 that the Department of Justice proposes to indict only Chambers 2--or first Chambers, and thus destroy his usefulness?

1 Representative Richard M. Nixon of California.

2 Whittaker Chambers, witness before congressional committees on Communist espionage in the United States.

THE PRESIDENT. The Department of Justice will follow the law. It's in the hands of the Department of Justice and the courts, and that's where it will be, so far as I am concerned. I have no intention of getting into a controversy with this dead committee. [Laughter]

Q. My question may be useless, after that, but there is a charge that there's politics being played at this hearing, and the inference is that the administration is playing the politics. You said nothing about that. May I ask you if you will say something about it?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the evidence speaks for itself on that--in that line.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask one thing? You call it a dead committee. It's a standing committee of the House. Do you think it will be, or should be abolished.

THE PRESIDENT. I think the Congress itself will take care of that when it meets after the first of January, so you had better ask the Speaker of the House what he intends to do about it.

Q. Mr. President, does it disturb you at all, sir, that although the FBI had the Chambers story for 9 years, it took this dead committee to come up with the documents?

THE PRESIDENT. Did the FBI have it for 9 years, do you know? Are you making that as a statement of fact? I want to know if you know that? I don't know--I say I don't know that that is a fact. I don't think you should enter into a controversy unless you know it is a fact.

Q. Did you say--you said that it is not a fact, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not. I don't think you do, either.

Q. Mr. President, the testimony has been that although--not the FBI necessarily, but other high officers, including Mr. Berle 1 in the Democratic administration, had heard the whole story?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it.

1 Adolf A. Berle, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of State.

Q. Mr. President, may I ask one more question--


Q.--on the same topic? That is, the trial of the 12 Communist leaders has been postponed 2 or 3 times, and I wonder whether any thought or conclusion had been had as to whether that prosecution is to be pressed, or whether it might even be dropped?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a question you had better ask the Attorney General. He has instructions to go ahead and prosecute all the lawbreakers of that sort.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, is Judge Waring 1 of South Carolina being considered for another appointment?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of.

1 J. Waties Waring, U.S. district judge, Eastern District of South Carolina.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, could you dear up for us in any way the status of this Chiefs of Staff Evaluation Board Bikini atom bomb experiment? 2

THE PRESIDENT. I can clear it up as it has always been cleared up; its status hasn't changed and will not change.

2 See Item 278 [1].

Q. That's on the recommendation of Secretary Forrestal that it will not be published?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. There are several indications that there will be no objection from the Department of Defense, or even from the Atomic Energy--

THE PRESIDENT. There might be an objection from the President, and it rests in my desk.

[4.] Q. If the delegate to the United Nations, Mr. Austin, should resign, would you invite a Member of the Congress to succeed him?

THE PRESIDENT. Now that's a possibility I haven't considered. I know nothing about Senator Austin having any intention of resigning. You will have to find that out first.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, are the Baltic refugees who came across the Atlantic in a small boat this summer going to be returned to Sweden?

THE PRESIDENT. I am trying my best not to have them returned. I have been working on that right along. I hope that they will not have to be returned.

Q. Do you think it will require legislation, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. If it does, I will ask for it.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, some time in October, the Army asked for certain records in the Ilse Koch1 case for you, they said, for a study which was to be made at the White House. Is that case under study here now?

THE PRESIDENT. What case is that?

1 Ilse Koch, Nazi war criminal and wife of the commandant of Buchenwald concentration camp.

Q. The Ilse Koch case--the Buchenwald case?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about it.

Q. The Army announced at the time that the papers were asked for--for you?

THE PRESIDENT. I knew nothing about it. That may have been asked for in my name, which the Secretary of Defense has a perfect right to do.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any idea yet when you will have your budget seminar?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as soon as the budget is ready, I will call you in and talk to you about it.

Q. Will it be before Christmas, or after Christmas?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. It's a slow process, getting the budget ready.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, is there any labor management conference in sight?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of, not that I know of.

Q. Has anyone from the upper reaches of the Labor Department been over here talking to you, or your staff, about a possible new Federal labor law?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not yet. That probably will be at a later time.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on Senator Bridges' difference of opinion with Mr. Hoffman 1 over shipping ECA goods in American bottoms?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

1 Paul G. Hoffman, Economic Cooperation Administrator.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided yet whether you will go to Puerto Rico for the inauguration down there?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I am going to be able to go. I would like very much to go, because I have been very much interested in the Government of Puerto Rico, and appointed the first native Governor, and I had hoped to be present at the inauguration of their first elected Governor; but Congress in all probability will meet on the 3d, and I don't think I can leave.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, I understand the Mayor of St. Louis has written you appealing for funds to go ahead with the Jefferson Memorial out there? Can you comment?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. I would like very much to see him go ahead with it.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, on our original subject, can you say whether or not you have been advised of the contents of these State Department documents?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no further comment to make on that.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, on that St. Louis thing, are you going to include an appropriation in the budget--a recommendation in your budget?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't been brought to that point here, but I am anxious to see that project finished, and if it requires a recommendation in the budget, why I will have them put it in.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, the Argentine Foreign Minister comes to see you tomorrow, I believe. Can you tell us what topics are up for discussion?

THE PRESIDENT. No I can't. Maybe he can. He asked for the interview.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, will you meet any further in the week with Madame Chiang to discuss China aid?

THE PRESIDENT. That remains to be seen.

Q. Will it be discussed at the tea tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT. That's what she's coming in to see me for. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, could you use your influence with Madame Chiang to give us a press conference?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that I have any influence with her. [Laughter] Have you asked her to give you a press conference? I said, have you asked her to give you a press conference?

Q. Not formally. [Morelaughter]

THE PRESIDENT. All right, maybe you had better try that first.

Q. Mr. President, the last time she was here she had one here with President Roosevelt.

THE PRESIDENT. I wasn't here. [Laughter ]

[16.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us anything about the talks you had with President Prio of Cuba?

THE PRESIDENT, No, I can't. They were very friendly, I'll say that, and very satisfactory to both him and to me, but I do not want to discuss the details.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, what do you hear about the progress of General Marshall's recovery?

THE PRESIDENT. General Marshall is getting along all right. I hear from him every day.

[18.] Q. How will you deliver your Message on the State of the Union to Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. That is under consideration, and I will make an announcement on it later, as soon as I know exactly what I expect to do.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to press again for the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway?

THE PRESIDENT. I certainly am. I pressed for it in every Message on the State of the Union I have ever sent to the Congress.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, can you comment on the withdrawal of American bases from the Philippines?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything to say about American relations with the new Venezuelan Government?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and sixtieth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, December 9, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234135

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives