Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 20, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have no special announcements to make. I will try to answer questions, however.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you heard that the House has just passed a resolution1 demanding that you supply full and complete information on any agreements or commitments made to Mr. Churchill in your January talks,2 particularly involving the dispatch of American troops on the seas? I just wondered--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about the resolution. I can't comment on it until I do know what's in it. Officially it hasn't come to me.

1H Res. 514 is printed in the Congressional Record (vol. 98, p. 1205).

2 for the joint statement of the President and Prime Minister Churchill relating to the Atlantic Command, see Item 16.

Q. Mr. President, would you feel, in those circumstances, that there would be any responsibility on the part of the executive department to respond?

THE PRESIDENT. I will have to see the resolution before I can answer any questions in regard to it.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, in talking to the Methodist ministers today,3 a you made this statement: "There is no other country in the world, with the possible exception of Great Britain, Canada, and Australia"

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I left out a good many countries that should have been mentioned. It was an accident and not intentional that the statement was made just the way it was. There are a lot of countries in addition to the ones I named.

3 Item 42.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, General Vandenberg's term as one of your chairmen of the Joint Chiefs--he is not Chairman, but one of the Joint Chiefs--expires relatively soon. Do you intend to reappoint him? There are reports that you have had recommendations for that on your desk for some days.

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't come to me yet, and he is not the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Q. No sir.

THE PRESIDENT. --he is the Air member of the Joint Chiefs, but when the matter comes before me, then I will tell you what I am going to do. I can't comment on it today, I'm sorry.

Q. You haven't picked out a successor for him ?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, another question--a political question, but not the big one. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Go ahead.

Q. In the District of Columbia we can't vote for President or Vice President, but we do send delegates to the National Convention.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. In selecting those delegates now, we have a rather complicated machinery; only a relatively small number of residents here take part. Now, would you be in favor of an open primary for the selection of delegates, one that would bring out a maximum number of people--

THE PRESIDENT. I am for a national presidential primary. That is my answer to that.

Q. That would include the District?

THE PRESIDENT. That would include the District, of course.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, how soon do you plan to give us that judgeship in South Carolina?4

THE PRESIDENT. just as quickly as I find the man I think is fitted to fill it. Sometimes it takes a little delay to get around to those things to find the right man, but I will let you know in plenty of time whenever I am ready.

4Federal judgeship in the Eastern District of South Carolina.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to accept Mr. Fitzpatrick's5 invitation to the Harriman6 dinner?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't received any such invitation. Harriman ?

5 Paul fitzpatrick, Chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee.

6W. Averell Harriman, Director for Mutual Security.

Q. Paul Fitzpatrick invited you yesterday to the Harriman dinner on the 17th of April in New York.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, that was a general Democratic dinner. I didn't know it was especially for Averell Harriman, but of course I would like to attend. I don't know whether I can or not.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, the Senate District Committee yesterday postponed action again on Earl Wayne Beck.7 Do you plan to leave his name in nomination?

THE PRESIDENT. Why, certainly.

7 Earl Wayne Beck of Kansas City, Mo., who had been nominated to be Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia on January 22. The appointment was not approved, however, and on June 9 the President signed an act which provided for the appointment of the Recorder of Deeds by the Commissioners of the District of Columbia (66 Stat. 129).

Q. Do you think it will be confirmed ?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. He is as well qualified as any man that has ever held that job.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you have in sight a successor to Millard Caldwell as Civil Defense Administrator?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. I have been trying to find somebody, because the Governor has to go back to Florida and attend to some of his business. He has done a wonderful job since he has been here, and I have been trying to accommodate him, but I haven't succeeded in finding a successor as yet.

Q. Is there a deadline, Mr. President, on when he has to leave ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so. He wants to leave as promptly as he can. He has been here, I believe, more than a year longer than he agreed to stay when he first came up.8

8 On November 7, the White House released the text of Millard Caldwell's resignation, to be effective November 15, 1952, and the President's letter of acceptance. His successor as Federal Civil Defense Administrator was Val Peterson. Mr. Caldwell formerly had served as Governor of Florida.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any estimate as to when General Eisenhower9 may be terminating his assignment?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't.

9 General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the action of the House Judiciary Subcommittee yesterday in deciding not to give immunity powers to Mr. Morris? 10

THE PRESIDENT. The only reason that those immunity powers were requested for Mr. Morris was to give him an opportunity to do a bang-up job. I have no comment to make on the action of the House Committee. They have been very anxious to have a bang-up job done, and I tried to give him the power necessary so he could do that sort of job. There wasn't any bug under the chip, or anything of the kind.

10Newbold Morris, Special Assistant to the Attorney General. See also Items 35 [1], 36, 64 [15].

Q. What, sir? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. There was not any bug under the chip, or anything of the kind.

Q. Bug under the chip?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. [Laughter]

Q. Is that the same as let the river take its course ?

Q. Mr. President, would you feel that the fact that he is not going to receive those powers will prevent him from doing a bang-up job?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes I do.

Q. Well, Mr. President, whose idea was it that he needed the immunity power?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, when you are making an investigation before a grand jury-and this is a sort of grand jury--a man who comes in and testifies usually is promised immunity if it will point toward the conviction of some criminal. It is customary in all the approaches to investigations of that kind.

Q. Well, I mean, whose idea was that, that he needed it?

THE PRESIDENT. Mine. You don't have to blame anybody. [Laughter]

Q. Well, Mr. President, you said that you believe the fact that he doesn't have this power now will prevent his doing a bang-up job--

THE PRESIDENT. I think it will hamper him in doing a bang-up job.

Q. Do you have any other ideas that will help him ? Are you going to try to counteract this--

THE PRESIDENT. We are going to give him every help we possibly can to do a good job. That is what we want. We haven't anything to cover up.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, while we're on the subject of congressional committees, have you any comment on the Senate foreign Relations Committee action yesterday overturning Senator Connally's11 wishes by voting open hearings on the St. Lawrence?

THE PRESIDENT. I am very happy that they voted to hold hearings on the St. Lawrence Seaway. They should hold those hearings. It is important and necessary that that project be built.

11 Senator Tom Connally of Texas, Chairman of the Senate foreign Relations Committee.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, without a question, do you have anything to volunteer on your intentions? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. NO comment, Tony.12

12 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. I hope they are honorable.

THE PRESIDENT. Tony has a very adroit way of approaching these things. He always looks at me with that innocent, poor boy look, "now Mr. President, you ought to do something for me," and I almost feel like doing it. [Laughter]

Q. When we go out we will be asked if there was any political development, and I just want that for the record.

THE PRESIDENT. All right, Tony, that's all right.

Q. Mr. President, since the last press conference there has been a rather striking disappearance on the part of your callers from any discussion of your future. We have gone along a couple of weeks here when everybody who came out of your office talked about it. Then "bing," it stopped. I wonder if.--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have an idea they heard the lecture that I gave this press conference, and they abided by it.

Q. Have you done anything to stop them?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. They are always free agents when they go out of my office. I never try to gag anybody.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, I want to make another try on this Churchill question.

THE PRESIDENT. Go ahead.

Q. Without reference to the resolution, have any commitments been made to Great Britain on sending troops anywhere?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment. [Pause]

Are you out of "soap"? [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. All right.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and ninety-fifth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 20, 1952.

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/231447

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