Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

April 13, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I will explain to you why I was late. The President of Chile was our guest last night at the Blair House, and it is necessary for the President to see the distinguished guests away from the Blair House when they leave. We were a little late making the arrangements, hence you had to wait 10 minutes--which doesn't happen very often.

I have no announcements to make. If you have any questions, I will listen to them.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, Charles Binaggio and Charles Gargotta were both witnesses before a Federal grand jury in Kansas City probing rackets. Now, 8 days after they were killed,1 the Attorney General apparently has not found legal authority to bring the FBI into the investigation. Governor Smith, I understand, wired the FBI for allout assistance, immediately after the killings. I have two questions to ask, sir: one, do you think this is a Federal matter; and two, will you ask the Attorney General to send the FBI--

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter for the Attorney General himself to determine. The grand jury was called in Kansas City at my suggestion to the Attorney General several months ago.

1Charles Binaggio and Charles Gargotta were found shot to death at the First Ward Democratic Club in Kansas City, Mo., on the morning of April 6, 1950. Both men had testified before a special Federal grand jury in Kansas City that had been called to investigate nationwide crime and vice.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, are you in agreement with the Attorney General, who has been quoted as saying that all forms of segregation are discriminatory ?

THE PRESIDENT. I think we have been working for that for some time past. Haven't you read any of my messages on that subject?

Q. Yes sir, but they didn't cover that, I don't think, and--

THE PRESIDENT. When you read the messages you will get the plain answer.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you discussed the Binaggio case with the Attorney General?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not. It is not in my jurisdiction. I have not discussed it with them and don't expect to discuss it with them.

Q. Mr. President, when Senator Lucas was here the other day, did he discuss the crime situation in general with you?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he did not.

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us any more about the request that you made which resulted in the calling of the grand jury in Kansas City--anything on the scope of the investigation that you ordered?

THE PRESIDENT. The scope of the investigation was to, if possible, get to the bottom of these national rackets. And the Attorney General called the grand jury at my suggestion for that purpose. The rackets are nationwide, they are not confined to Kansas City or St. Louis or--there are as many in St. Louis as there are in Kansas City. They are in every big city in the country, even in Washington, if I am not mistaken.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you wish to comment on the recent visit to Washington--the presence of the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Cereijo of Argentina, who has been here--

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that. I did see the Finance Minister. I understand that he went away from here highly pleased with the result of his visit.

[6.] Q. When you spoke of calling the grand jury at your suggestion, do you mean just the grand jury in Kansas City?

THE PRESIDENT. Just the grand jury in Kansas City.

Q. Weren't there grand juries in a good many other cities at the same time?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Grand juries were already in session in several other cities, and I suggested one be called in Kansas City and one for St. Louis. The one for St. Louis I don't think was called.

Q. You meant it to be nationwide in scope?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I meant it to be nationwide in scope.

Q. You meant it to be that?

THE PRESIDENT. That is exactly right.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, that grand jury doesn't have anything to do with the theft of the ballot boxes, does it?2


2 The vault of the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners in the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Mo., was broken into during the night of May 27--28, 1947, and the contents of three metal ballot boxes, containing ballots, poll books, and tally sheets, were stolen. The articles had been returned to the vault the day before after being used as evidence by a State grand jury in a 2-month investigation of alleged vote manipulation in the August 1946 primary election.

Q. Have you discussed that with the Attorney General?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not.

Q. You realize that the Statute of Limitations will run in this case?

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

[8.] Q. Did you have a good visit with the President of Chile last night, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Very good visit. That is quite a jump from St. Louis to Santiago, Chile, isn't it? [Laughter]

Q. Did you take up any economic or political subjects ?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not. The President of Chile is coming to pay an official call on me at 4 o'clock this afternoon, and we shall discuss any subject in which he is interested.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Taft said this week that you had libeled Senator McCarthy. Would you care to make any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. Do you think that is possible? [Laughter]

Q. May we quote that?


Q. Well, Mr. President, are you aware of what Senator Taft said ? He wrote a whole column for his Ohio paper.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't read Senator Taft's column, and I do not make it my business to read political publications of people who are running for office

Q. Would you repeat that for us?

THE PRESIDENT. --particularly in one statement.

Q. It was a general criticism of the administration's attitude

THE PRESIDENT. That would be natural for Senator Taft. He is running for reelection in Ohio, and I suppose he has something else in mind a couple of years from now. [Laughter]

Q. Yes. I thought you were interested, perhaps, in this year's campaign.

THE PRESIDENT. I am very much interested in it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, can we get back to the Missouri matter, not related to

THE PRESIDENT. Anything. I told you you could ask any questions and I will answer all I Can.

Q. Do you have any comment on Governor Smith's gasoline tax proposal--this is a double-barreled question--would you care to say if you voted for or against

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it's anybody's business how I voted, but I was for the increase in the tax and I voted for it. [Laughter]

Q. Any comment on the defeat?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on the

defeat. The people of Missouri just simply didn't want it, I reckon. They overwhelmingly thought that they didn't want it.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, I see Myron Taylor is on the calling list today. Do you intend to reappoint him to the Vatican?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that and I do not intend to comment on that this morning. Mr. Taylor is here on private business of his own.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to revert to the one last question--

THE PRESIDENT. Shoot all the questions you want.

Q. In your opinion, could you construe the murder of the two Federal witnesses as tampering with witnesses before a Federal grand jury?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in the legal buisness, and you can make your own construction on that.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Tobey says he is asking you to name a New Englander to the Interstate Commerce Commission. I wonder if you plan to do that?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Senator Tobey was down here and asked you to name a New England man to the ICC. I wonder if you plan to do that?

THE PRESIDENT. Senator Tobey made a recommendation for the ICC, and he will have the same consideration that several dozen other people have that have been recommended to me from all parts of the United States. There are other Sates in the Union as well as New Hampshire.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, several groups, including Republicans, are protesting the delay in action on FEPC until the foreign aid measure is acted on. Can you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I can comment on it. The reason for the postponement was due to the fact that the ECA appropriation should get into the omnibus appropriation bill in the House. Unless it is passed promptly, it will not get into that omnibus bill. The FEPC will be carried to the logical conclusion, and every effort will be made to pass FEPC promptly without starting a filibuster against an international matter that is of vital importance to the whole world.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, some months ago you outlined for us a nationwide program of river valley development, and you astounded us with your knowledge of river geography. Have any steps been taken in the direction of fulfilling that program?

THE PRESIDENT. Surveys are being made, and I have some preliminary reports on it.

Q. That is in the Missouri Valley


Q. That is the Missouri Valley?

THE PRESIDENT. The whole Mississippi Valley--Pittsburgh to Denver, and from Minneapolis to New Orleans.

[16.] Q. Have you been personally reviewing the necessary preliminaries for our responsibilities in the forthcoming reciprocal trade talks?


Q. Have you completed that?


[17.] Q. Do you think the first 5 years are the hardest? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. That is an easy thing for a person to say. The first 5 years have been rather difficult, but the country is still on its feet. And in spite of some unemployment, we have more people at work than ever before in the history of any country in the history of the world. We have the most prosperous business setup that the country has ever seen, if the Wall Street reports are to be believed. We have the farmer in better financial condition than he has ever been in the history of the country, except at the top point in 1948, I think it was. And I can't see that there is any serious thing the matter with the country as a whole. I think it's in fine shape. In fact, the first 5 years after the greatest war in history have been easier on the United States than the aftermath of any other war that was ever fought in this country, if you will read your history a little carefully.

Of course, it couldn't possibly be that the Executive is to be credited with that situation. That just took place. It would have taken place if we had had a moron on the job, according to the way the general attitude of some of the press is. [Laughter]

But I think that the President can take credit for the situation, and that is what he proposes to do. [More laughter]

Q. Next month sometime, Mr. President? [18.] Q. Mr. President, I notice you say the farmers are in the best condition, but how about the rest of us, with the surpluses and the high food prices?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that you get plenty to eat, Miss May,3 and I have an idea that you are getting a bigger salary than you ever have gotten before in your life.

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

Q. Yes sir, but they don't get as much as I do.

THE PRESIDENT. That's true, but they are getting more than they ever got before in their history.

Q. But there are still surpluses to be destroyed.

THE PRESIDENT. If you will study the situation, you will find that the principle of surpluses being destroyed was brought about by your representative in the Senate from Maine, and it was potatoes that caused most of the trouble.

Q. Butter, eggs, wheat, corn, cotton--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, the output of every farmer is at its greatest and farmers are prosperous, and we have a solution for that, a proposition which has been in the Congress ever since the 1st day of January of this year to meet that problem. We have the solution for it. If you will work for that solution as hard as you are bringing attention to the surpluses, we will get it solved.

Q. Is that the Brannan plan?

THE PRESIDENT. That is the Brannan plan.4 [19.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to your answer a minute ago where you covered the domestic situation, I was just wondering if you feel that the problems of peace are any more difficult now--I mean in the last 20 months than they were? This is a perennial question, and I know you commented on it before.

THE PRESIDENT. I think the situation worldwide is better than it was in 1946, and I think there has been a gradual improvement.

4 On April 7, 1949, Secretary of Agriculture Charles F. Brannan appeared at a joint session of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, at which time he outlined his price support plan. The plan would substitute an income support standard for the previous parity formula, use direct payments to farmers when prices of certain perishables fell too far below parity, and let those perishables sell to consumers at supply and demand prices.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to campaign for the Brannan plan when you go to Wisconsin in May?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Do you plan to speak for the Brannan plan when you go to Wisconsin in May?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going on a nonpolitical tour to dedicate some dams, and I think my speeches will not be partisan or political. The one in Chicago may be, but that will be at the end of the trip.

Q. Will you "dam" the Republicans a little bit in Chicago? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon?

Q. Will you "dam" the Republicans a little bit in Chicago ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you had better wait and see. I don't like to prophesy what I am going to say. I think you found that out on the train.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, if you plan to sign the new housing bill, can you give us some idea of how soon that action might come ?

THE PRESIDENT. The bill has not come to my desk yet. It is being analyzed by the various departments. When it comes to my desk, why I will let you know about it.5

5On April 20, 1950, the President signed the Housing Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 48).

[22.] Q. How about the Kerr bill, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. The Kerr bill is under consideration now. It is being analyzed in the various departments.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, is there any light you can shed on the disappearance of the Navy Privateer over the Baltic? 6

THE PRESIDENT. There is an investigation, and it has been ordered by Admiral Conolly,7 and I can make no comment on it until we know all the facts.

6 On April 8, 1950, a United States Navy patrol plane vanished over the Baltic Sea. The plane, carrying four officers and six enlisted men, was a Privateer, a four-engined plane with a tail assembly somewhat resembling that of the B-29. U.S. officials stated that the plane left Wiesbaden Air Base in Germany and that its destination was Copenhagen, Denmark. Some debris was later sighted by search planes, but there were no survivors. The Soviet Government subsequently stated that Russian planes had fired upon a B-29 Flying Fortress after it had failed to comply with orders and had opened fire upon the Soviet planes.

7Rear Adm. Richard L. Conolly, commander of the U.S. fleet in the Mediterranean and east Atlantic.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, have you received a series of gifts and telegrams from son April 20, 1950, the President signed the Housing Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 48). Congressman Heselton of Massachusetts?8 Any comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

8 The White House had been receiving a large number of telegrams from Representative John W. Heselton of Massachusetts expressing his views on agriculture and the surplus food situation. The gifts that he had forwarded to the President were small boxes of rice, dried peas, dried milk, shelled peanuts, potatoes, and similar farm products.

Q. What do you do with them?

THE PRESIDENT. What do I do with them? There's a nice, round file under my desk. [Laughter]

[25.] Q. Mr. President, your old friend Dr. Gallup says that right now your popularity is not what it might be. Do you think that you might do something about that on this trip?

THE PRESIDENT. Will you turn back to about March 1948, and read Mr. Gallup?

Q. Yes sir, I know that.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that's about on the same par with that.

[26.] Q. Mr. President, will you make any talks in Ohio on your way to or from Chicago?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question, because the details of the trip have not been outlined as yet. Grand Coulee and Chicago are the only definite dates.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, you said the international situation is better now than it was in 1946?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it is.

Q. Have you a reason for choosing 1946 rather than 1945?

THE PRESIDENT. I think 1946 was about the worst time that we had anywhere. It was shortly after 1946 that we instituted the program for Greece and Turkey, and the Marshall plan came in June 1947. That was about the worst time with which we were faced that I can remember, except by a shooting war itself.

[28.] Q. Mr. President, going back to those nonpartisan, nonpolitical speeches, do you consider the Brannan plan a partisan and political issue ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it is not a partisan, political issue. It is for the benefit of all the farmers of the United States.

Q. Well then, Mr. President, you are not--

THE PRESIDENT. And there are lots of Republican farmers that haven't been properly educated yet, or they would be Democrats. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, we didn't hear that last

THE PRESIDENT. Wait--you didn't give me a chance--you didn't give me a chance to finish my answer to your question. If you will give me a chance to answer your question, I will be glad to do it.

I said the Brannan plan was not a partisan program, it is for the benefit of all the farmers of the United States, and there are lots of Republican farmers, I think, that if they had been properly educated they wouldn't be Republicans.

What is the rest of your question now?

Q. Well then, with that thought, you are not barred from speaking

THE PRESIDENT. I am not barred from speaking on anything I want to--[Laughter]--but I don't intend to make any what you might call partisan speeches on this trip.

Q. Mr. President, does that still look like five or six major speeches?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, I can't answer you, because there are only--well, as I told you awhile ago, there are three stops in Wyoming to dedicate another dam--visit another dam. And I can't tell you how many speeches it will be. It will depend on how many stops we have.

Q. A speech at every stop, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. There may be 50 or 60 before we get through. [Laughter]

Q. We'll bring the oxygen tent with us.

THE PRESIDENT. You had better bring the oxygen tent. [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and twenty-second news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:40 a.m. on Thursday, April 13, 1950.

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/230921

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