Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

July 21, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. I have one announcement to make. Tony,1 I will make it slowly, so that you can get it down.

1Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. Thank you, sir. [Laughter]

[1.] THE PRESIDENT, I am appointing Philip M. Kaiser as Assistant Secretary of Labor.

Mr. Kaiser is presently Director of International Affairs of the Department of Labor.

That's all the announcements I have, gentlemen--and ladies.

Q. Do you know where he is from?

THE PRESIDENT. He lives now in Virginia. Came from Brooklyn originally, I think.

Q. Will you have announcement soon, on the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I imagine so.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any information on what is going on on the atomic foreign policy?


Q. Mr. President, suppose you were a newspaper reporter and you were writing all this stuff, would you give us a little advice as to what is the relative importance of the story?

THE PRESIDENT. It is relatively unimportant. You see, it has been a habit of mine to hold conferences in the White House and in the Blair House on various subjects that affect the welfare of the country, and that has been going on for 4 years. And these conferences are on my personal invitation. This is the first occasion on which one of the persons who has been invited has leaked the fact to people that he was coming to the White House to see the President. I didn't like it, and I still don't like it.

Q. Well now--

THE PRESIDENT. I shall continue to have those conferences whenever I feel like it, and they will continue to be off the record.

Q. A very friendly and valuable suggestion, and my impression is that they overheadlined and over-played it, is that a fact?

THE PRESIDENT. That is absolutely true. That is absolutely true. And eventually the facts will come out, and you will find it is nothing to be alarmed about, and that there is no deep, dark secret in connection with it. Just merely the President having a conference of some of his top advisers on a subject in which he was interested.

Q. Deep, dark--what was that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No deep, dark secret.

Q. Was what Tydings said about it later erroneous?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on it. That is as far as I am going. I just won't answer any questions about it at all.

Q. Mr. President, when you say relatively--

THE PRESIDENT. I'll just "no comment" them all.

Q.--relatively unimportant, does--you mean the meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that's right. All subjects are important when the President calls a conference on them, but the meeting was relatively unimportant.2

2In the President's news conference held on July 14, a question had been raised concerning whether or not a meeting was scheduled to be held that evening at the Blair House. At that time the President gave only guarded confirmation of the report.

According to newspaper reports made on July 15, the information that a meeting was to be held sometime during the evening of the 14th at the Blair House became known during that afternoon. The source of the information was not identified.

Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was reported to have left the meeting early and to have been asked whether the question of Russia and the atomic bomb had been dealt with. The Senator was quoted as having replied "I wouldn't think

At his news conference held on July 28 the President read a statement regarding the meeting held on the evening of the 14th (see Item 166).

[3.] Q. Mr. President, 52-20 unemployment compensation expires Monday. You asked for extension of it in your message.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Do you have in mind any special steps to get action to Congress before Monday?


Q. In the future?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I sent a message down, that's all the information I have to give them at the present time.

[4.] Q. There has been some suggestion, sir, that you might ask Congress again for that sesquicentennial money, with the assurance this time that it would be granted. Is there anything you can say about that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, but I intend to ask the Congress again to make an appropriation for the sesquicentennial. They should make the appropriation, and I hope they will.

Q. $3 million?

THE PRESIDENT. Whatever it was they asked for. I think it was $3 million. I sent down a request for whatever the amount was. I believe it was $3 million.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, have you asked Secretary Johnson and others to proceed with the five percenter inquiry, as it is called?

THE PRESIDENT. I have in the beginning told the War Assets Administration, and the Maritime Administration, and the military, always to be very careful in the letting of contracts, and to be sure that every contract is properly investigated. That was my business in the Senate, to make that sort of investigation, and there were no particular instructions given to anybody that have not been in force right along.

Q. Mr. President, have you.--

THE PRESIDENT. It has been customary.

Q.--I beg your pardon.


Q. Have you consulted with Senator Hoey in support of his investigation?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not. It hasn't been necessary.3

3Senator Clyde R. Hoey of North Carolina, Chairman, Senate Investigations Subcommittee of the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments. The subcommittee hearings, entitled "Influence in Government Procurement," were published by the Government Printing Office (1949, 769 pp.).

Q. General Vaughan was mixed up in a lot of these things?

THE PRESIDENT. I have been reading all the stories I saw in the papers, but I don't believe them.

Q. Do you agree with the statement of General Vaughan that there are 300 five percenters, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about it. I think you fellows would know all about it. That is your business, to find out about those things.

Q. Sometimes, Mr. President, we can't investigate very easily, we are checkmated. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. How? How do you get checkmated, Miss May?4 I never checkmate you.

4Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Q. Well--

THE PRESIDENT. I give you all the information.

Q.--we were checkmated on the secrecy about the Blair House.

THE PRESIDENT. I give you the information I can. There is no secrecy around the Blair House, Miss May, at all. I live there. It's my private residence.

Q. Just the same--

THE PRESIDENT. Are there any secrets around your house where you live? [Laughter]

Q. I am not President!

Q. Mr. President, on this legal point, if the Senate shows a disposition to call General Vaughan, will he be permitted to testify?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. Certainly he will.

Q. Mr. President--

Q. Mr. President--

THE PRESIDENT. Let the lady ask her question.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, was the suspension of the Mexican oil loan negotiations made with your approval?

THE PRESIDENT. I knew nothing about it. I saw in yesterday's paper where Mr. Acheson said they were temporarily suspended. That's all I know about it.

Q. Later, Assistant Secretary of State Miller said that obviously it was done with White House approval?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think the negotiations probably were stymied, and they will

be renewed at the proper time. It was not discussed with me.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, in the current debate on the North Atlantic Pact, some Republicans have raised the issue of atomic secrets being passed on to other members of the treaty countries. Mr. Wherry, I believe, said that he feared that this might be implicit in the pact and he would like some guarantees beforehand before the vote is made?

THE PRESIDENT. If I understand correctly, Mr. Wherry has a lot of ungrounded fears, in which I am not interested.

Q. He has had a lot of what?

THE PRESIDENT. Ungrounded fears about the treaty.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any idea when the military aid program will go up to the Hill?

THE PRESIDENT. As soon as it is ready.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, the Senate Judiciary Committee seems to be holding up the nomination of Carroll Switzer to be a Federal judge. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. It seems to be the policy of the Judiciary Committee to hold up any appointments I send down there, so that's nothing new.

Q. Has the point been reached where you feel justified in withdrawing his name?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not yet.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, do you expect to move pretty swiftly in naming a replacement for Mr. Justice Murphy?

THE PRESIDENT. As quickly as I can make the announcement I will make it. I don't know whether that will be swiftly or whether it will be quickly. That depends altogether on the point of view.

Q. Are you getting a lot of recommendations?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, I have a pile of recommendations. Plenty of recommendations. Every Federal judge in the United States would like to be on the Supreme Court. I imagine most of them are qualified.5

5See Item 189.

Q. Mr. President, I don't want to be impertinent--I don't even know whether it's an impertinent question--but will you follow the policy of replacing a Catholic with a Catholic?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, I believe the reciprocity trade act has actually expired. Do you expect congressional--are you confident of congressional action to renew that?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes. As soon as we can get around to it. I think there is no doubt but what they will ratify the trade treaty.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, what comment have you had on your plan announced last week for extending Federal aid to areas hard hit by unemployment?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand the question?

Q. What comment have you had on your plan which you announced last week for extending Federal aid to areas hard hit by unemployment?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they are working on it right now, and comment has all been favorable. The Secretary of Commerce is making an on-the-spot investigation. The Labor Department through Mr. Tobin is supplying the statistics, and Dr. Steelman is coordinating all the parts of the Government that can be of help in the program; and we are making some progress.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, one other thing, there is a report in a magazine today that you gave General Vaughan a mock medal in connection

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. I have no comment. That's like the Blair House meeting.

What was the question back there?

[14.] Q. This is one about the Blair House meeting. Do you have any contemplation whatsoever of telling the British how to make the atomic bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. No Comment. I told you I wouldn't answer questions about the Blair House meeting, or anything in connection with it, or any rumors in connection with it.

Q. Mr. President, here is one that you might answer. The man who leaked the news about the first Blair House meeting, would you invite him to the second one?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't have a second one.

Q. Will you invite--

THE PRESIDENT. I will attend to that when it comes around.

Q. Mr. President, do you know who he is?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes Ma'am, I do. [Laughter ]

Q. Who is he?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. No comment. [More laughter]

Q. Mr. President, you say in your earlier remarks on the mechanics of that meeting that you thought at some point we would agree that this was a relatively unimportant discussion. Does that--

THE PRESIDENT. Just be patient until all the rumors are floored, then you will have the answer to that question.

Q. I wonder whether you could say now that it is--or at some future time that the whole thing will be disclosed?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't intend to discuss it.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you have a candidate for the new Republican National Chairman?

THE PRESIDENT. I am afraid my candidate wouldn't be considered. [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and ninetieth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 21, 1 949.

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/229765

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