Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 25, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have two or three announcements here that I would like to make, before we start off. You will find a mimeographed copy of this first one outside, when we get through.

[1.] [Reading] "Ambassador Austin 1 has fully and forcefully presented the views of this Government on our attitude toward aggression by the Chinese Communists. These views have the solid support of the Executive, the Congress, and the people of the United States.

1Ambassador Warren R. Austin, U.S. Representative to the United Nations.

"Each member of the United Nations must make its own decision on this issue. For my part, I believe in calling an aggressor an aggressor. The question of what can and should be done about the aggression in Korea, of course, must be discussed with all other friendly nations.

"Obviously this is no time for rash or unwise action. This is a time for clear thinking and firmness.

"Let me stress again that the American resolution contains--as all our proposals have contained--a method for bringing about a cease-fire, and opening the way for peaceful settlement of outstanding issues."

[2.] And I want to announce the appointments on the Commission of which Admiral Nimitz is the Chairman. 2

2 The President's Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights (see Item 20).

The Reverend Karl Morgan Block, Episcopal Bishop of California--

Q. Mr. President, we have no way of checking that--is that C for Carl?

THE PRESIDENT. K -- K-a-r-l -- Morgan B-l-o-c-k.

Q. And where is he from, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Episcopal Bishop of California. You will have to learn to write shorthand. [Laughter]

Senator John A. Danaher of Connecticut and Washington.

Harvey Firestone, Jr. 3

3 Chairman and chief executive of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co.

William E. Leahy, lawyer here in Washington who is head of the Selective Service-he is head, I believe, still, of the Selective Service. 4

4 Director of Selective Service for the District of Columbia,

Q. Where is Firestone from, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I suppose Ohio.

Joseph Short (Secretary to the President): Akron, Ohio.

THE PRESIDENT. I imagine so.

Q. Could we have the spelling of Leahy's name, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. L-e-a-h-y--William E.

Charles H. Silver, vice president of the American Woolen Co. of New York.

Q- What was that last name again, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Charles H. Silver.

Q. American Woolen Mills ?

THE PRESIDENT. Vice president of the American Woolen Company--not the American Woolen Mills, it's Company. American Woolen Company. Anna Lord Strauss.

Q. How do you spell Lord?

THE PRESIDENT. L-o-r-d. [Laughter] I will have to get Bill Hassett5 to tell you his sightseeing story in New York.

5 William D. Hassett, Secretary to the President.

Q. How many S's in Strauss, please, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. S-t-r-a-u-s-s--two s's. She is former president of the League of Women Voters.

The Reverend Emmet M. Walsh, Coadjutor Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio.

Q. For us Presbyterians, could you repeat that again, sir? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Rev. Emmet M. Walsh, Coadjutor Bishop of Youngstown, Ohio. I don't believe he's a Presbyterian though. [More laughter]

Russell C. Leffingwell, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and a former partner of Morgan and Co.

Q. And what was the last name, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. L-e-f-f-i-n-g-w-e-l-1. [Laughter]

Q. Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury?

THE PRESIDENT. Former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and a former Morgan partner.

[3.] General Eisenhower will return Wednesday from his tour of the countries belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. That same day he will report to me, to a special meeting of the Cabinet, and to a standing group of the NATO. On Thursday and Friday he will make further reports to the Congress. His radio report to the Nation is scheduled for Friday night. The schedule will be mimeographed and handed out to you as soon as it is ready.

Q. Is that Wednesday or Thursday?

THE PRESIDENT. Wednesday.

Q. No, the 2 days for the report?

Mr. Short: The report is due on Wednesday.

THE PRESIDENT. Thursday and Friday--he will report to me on Wednesday, and the Cabinet--and then he will report to the .

Mr. Short: This will all be available, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. This will all be available at the door, Joe says, so you won't have to worry about it.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, on that list of the Nimitz Commission, there is to be a vice chairman.--

THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. Strauss is to be the vice chairman.

Q. Mrs. Strauss ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Anna Lord Strauss. I guess she is Mrs. -- I don't know.

Mr. Short: Miss.

THE PRESIDENT. Miss, Joe says. I am mistaken. It is Miss Anna Lord Strauss. I beg her pardon.

[5.] "The Federal Budget in Brief" will be ready tomorrow.6

Now you can start in with your questions, if you have any.

6 "The Federal Budget in Brief, Fiscal Year 1952" (Government Printing Office: 1951, 241 PP.).

Q. Would you explain that Budget?

THE PRESIDENT. It is a little book about that thick--[indicating]. You can analyze the budget and you can't make a mistake if you read it carefully, and it covers the whole thing from cover to cover. It is a big book, too, but it is a little book.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the appointment of this commission, would you comment on the criticism made today by Senator Ferguson,7 who states that you have given this Commission as one of its jobs the task of preparing suggestions for legislation, that you are giving them access to all the personnel files and others, which he says you denied to congressional committees who have the constitutional duty of--

THE PRESIDENT. I think Senator Ferguson is slightly mistaken in his statement, and I don't care to comment on the rest of it.

7For the statement made on the floor of the Senate by Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan, see the Congressional Record, vol. 97, p. 680.

Q. Could you tell us the mistake, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No. You make it out yourself.

Q. Senator Ferguson further charges, I believe, that this is a political device?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Senator Ferguson is trying to make something political out of it, but I am not.

Q. Mr. President, does the Commission have the authority to use acts of Congress, such as the acts of congressional committees that may impinge on an individual's freedom?

THE PRESIDENT. I will-I think you had better read the Executive order on it. think that is covered in the Executive order, if I am not mistaken. 8

8 Executive Order 10207, "Establishing the President's Commission on Internal Security and Individual Rights" (3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., p. 389).

[7.] Q. Mr. President, is it true you will not appoint a successor to District Commissioner Guy Mason for some time?

THE PRESIDENT. I will appoint the Commissioner as soon as I am ready, and I will let you know right away.9

9The term of District of Columbia Commissioner Guy Mason expired February 3, 1951. He served until March 9, 1951, and was succeeded by F. Joseph Donohue on March 12.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Burnet Maybank, the chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee, said this week that failure of the Government to impose price controls sooner had brought the country to the brink of disaster. Have you got any comment ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think the country is anywhere near disaster.

[9.] Q. May I ask one more question? Can you deny reports that cotton is liable to be included in price controls ?

THE PRESIDENT. What is it you are trying to get me to deny? I never deny anything. [Laughter]

Q. In the last war, cotton was not included under price controls. What I want to know is if you can deny the report that all-out controls will include cotton?

THE PRESIDENT. I will deny nothing. [Laughter]

I think that the thing you are trying to drive at is that the price control laws are going to require some legislative amendments to make them complete. And as soon as Mr. Wilson10 is ready with those amendments, he will go down and ask for them.

10 Charles E. Wilson, Director, Office of Defense Mobilization.

Q. Mr. President, you mean by that statement, sir, that a request for changes in the Defense Production Act will be made by Mr. Wilson, and not by yourself in a special message?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be made by Mr. Wilson, with my approval.

Q. Thank you, sir.

[Pause ]

THE PRESIDENT. You are running out of soap?

Q. No, we are running out of lead, sir.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report up on the Hill that they are trying to introduce a bill taking away your tax-free expense account. Are you afraid of that?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that. I haven't seen the bill, and I know nothing about it. I didn't ask for that in the first place, if you will remember.

Q. Would you be in favor of taking away Congress's tax-free expense accounts?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think we should get into an argument over that. I spent a year and a half trying to get the Congress to pay itself higher salaries. If they want to "ball" themselves up, that's all right, that's their business, but they can't do that to me while I am in office. 11

11 The Revenue Act of 1951, approved October 20, 1951 (65 Stat. 569), removed the tax exemption provision relating to the expense allowances of the President, the Vice President, the Speaker, and Members of Congress, effective in January 1953.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on Senator McCarran's subcommittee to work on un-American activities in the Senate ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Senate committee has a right to work on anything that the Senate itself authorizes them to do. I have no comment in that particular case.

Q. Some of the people thought up on the Hill, that the creation of this committee shows some effort to bypass that?

THE PRESIDENT. Had nothing to do--had nothing to do with it whatever.

[12.] Q. Could you say anything about the subjects which you intend to discuss with the French Prime Minister ?

THE PRESIDENT. With whom?

Q. The French Prime Minister, Pleven ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I can't comment on that now.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, will you ask for the Brannan plan any time soon now, in an effort to keep food prices down?

THE PRESIDENT. It is in the Budget Message, May.12 It has already been asked for.

12 Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Q. I thought perhaps you had seen the bill--

THE PRESIDENT. No, that is up to Congress to write its own bill--which it usually does.

Q. Is it on your "must" legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it has always been. That ought to take care of potatoes, too, May, I think. [Laughter]

Q. No. [More laughter]

[14.] Q. Mr. President, I have gone over the Executive order since my last question, sir, and I don't see any reference to the Congress at all. I wonder if it was your intention, in setting up this Commission, that they should examine the activities of congressional committees ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I don't intend to. I don't intend to investigate investigating committees. I am only trying to meet it on the basis of a program which will be fair to all concerned.

Q. They could not examine investigating--

THE PRESIDENT. They might examine the hearings of an investigating committee, but they are not investigating an investigating committee.

Q. Mr. President, about that preceding question on the loyalty files, you made some files available to the Tydings subcommittee. Is it your intention to make files available to the commission on the same basis?

THE PRESIDENT. On exactly the same basis.

Q. Well, Mr. President, what is the basis ? As I remember it, the Tydings committee had to examine the files at the White House, is that right?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Is that the basis you speak of?

THE PRESIDENT. That is it exactly.

Q. Mr. President, in other words, this new commission when they want to look into a file in which there is some security, they will have to come here to the White House ?

THE PRESIDENT. They will ask me about it, and I will give them permission to see it.

Q. Mr. President, did you make the files available in the Anna Rosenberg case to the Senate committee ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember whether I did or not. I would have--

Q. We understood that you did.

THE PRESIDENT. I would have, if they had asked for it. I can't remember whether I did or not.

Q. Whether there is a distinction between one or the other?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think there is any.

Q. They sent the full files in the Rosenberg case and did not in the other committees ?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes they did. They had all the full files they asked for in the Tydings investigation, and in several other instances they have had the same privilege. But they have had to ask me for them, and I have to authorize them to see them. That is the formality they have to go through. 13

13 In November and December 1950, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, with Senator Millard E. Tydings of Maryland as chairman, held hearings on the nomination of Anna M. Rosenberg to be Assistant Secretary of Defense. With the President's permission, the FBI file on Mrs. Rosenberg was made available to a subcommittee of the Tydings committee. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on December 21, 1950.

Q. This committee has the same--they come to you, and you give them the permission--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. --in individual cases?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Reporter: Well, thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You are welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fifty-third news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 25, 1951.

For availability of investigating agency files in other cases, see 1950 volume, this series, Item 79 and note.

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/230750

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