Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

August 18, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Gentlemen, before we start, I have a brief statement I want to make to you.

[Reading] "At the outset, I do not intend to answer any questions pertaining to the testimony that has been given before Senator Hoey's subcommittee. General Vaughan already said that he will go before the committee and make a full statement on all matters with which his name has been connected, and I suggest to you, as the chairman of the committee has done, that you gentlemen and your editors in common fairness suspend judgment on General Vaughan until he has been heard by the committee."1

1On August 13, the White House released a statement by Maj. Gen. Harry H. Vaughan in which he explained that he had refrained from making any statement concerning the investigation being conducted by the subcommittee under the chairmanship of Senator Hoey, because he had informed the Committee that he would appear as a witness at the proper time and make a full statement regarding all the matters with which his name had been connected. But due to recent reports involving the names of prominent persons he thought it best to make a public statement. In the release Vaughan stated:

"In 1945 I had a talk with two old friends of mine--Mr. Harry Hoffman and Mr. David Bennett. The subject of deep-freeze units came up, and I said that I would like to have one for my house and that I would also like to send one to the Little White House in Independence. Mr. Hoffman said that he was associated with a concern that was beginning to manufacture deep-freeze units, and that he thought he could get hold of some factory rejects. He asked me whether, if he found that he could obtain some of these units, I would want some for some of my associates.

"Later Mr. Hoffman informed me that he could obtain some deep-freeze units that did not have commercial market value, as they were experimental models. At that time I informed him that I would like to have him send one to me and one to the White House in Washington for the lunch room used by members of the staff. Also, I asked him to send one to the Little White House in Independence, Missouri, and to send offer units to Mr. Fred Vinson, Mr. John Snyder, Mr. James K. Vardaman and Mr. Matthew J. Connelly. I had previously told them that I was going to get some deep-freeze units and that I would like each of them to have one.

"It is my recollection that the persons to whom the units were sent were not acquainted with either Mr. Hoffman or Mr. Bennett. They may have asked me later from whom I obtained the units and some acknowledgment of the receipt of the units may have been made to these men, or to either of

"The simple explanation of the entire matter is that Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Bennett desired to extend this courtesy to me as a friend, and I in turn made gifts of these units to certain friends of mine."

The hearings held by Senator Hoey's subcommittee are cited in a note to Item 161 [5].

Now, if you have any questions on any other subject, I will answer them.

Q. Mr. President, is it mimeographed?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It will not be mimeographed. That is a statement from me directly to you.

Q. May we have that quoted, Mr. President?

Q. Can you read it slowly, sir, so that we can get it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well--[reading]--"At the outset--

Q. Just a second, Mr. President, we have a lot of gaps here.

THE PRESIDENT. "I want to say to you that I do not intend to answer any questions pertaining to the testimony that has been given before Senator Hoey's subcommittee.

The principal reason for that is all these committees have been--all these committee hearings have been behind closed doors, and everything that has come out has been leaks.

[Continuing reading] "General Vaughan has already said that he will go before the committee and make a full statement on all the matters with which his name has been connected--

Q. And make a full statement--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. Then, of course, that will be a field day. That won't be behind closed doors, you can rest assured on that.

"I suggest, as the chairman of the committee has done--

Q. Mr. President, I am awfully slow this morning--

THE PRESIDENT. What's the matter with you, Tony,2 did you have a bad night? [Laughter]

2 Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. I have a bad cold. Make a full statement of all the--

THE PRESIDENT.--"matters with which his name has been connected." [Pause] Are you fixed now, Tony?

Q. I am with you now. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. "I suggest, as the chairman of the committee has done, that you gentlemen and your editors--

Q. How about May,3 Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT.--in common fairness--

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

Q. How about May, Mr. President, is she in on this, too? I notice you said gentlemen only?

THE PRESIDENT. And May--and all the rest of the ladies--[ laughter ]--"in common fairness suspend judgment on General Vaughan until he has been heard by the committee."

Q. Mr. President, may I ask one question? Did I understand you to say the testimony had only been in closed sessions? There has been an open session--

THE PRESIDENT. That is what I have been informed.

Q. There have been many open sessions.

THE PRESIDENT. Most of them have been behind closed doors, particularly if they were friendly to Vaughan.

Q. Particularly what, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Particularly if they were friendly to Vaughan.

Q. May we quote that, sir?

Q. Was that the entire statement--we may quote that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT [indicating the paper before him]. This statement, yes.

Q. May I ask a question about admirals? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Sure, Fire away.

[2.] Q. It has been reported that Admiral Hillenkoetter4 is going to be replaced. Could you say anything about it?

THE PRESIDENT. Admiral Hillenkoetter is an appointee of mine, and when he is replaced it will be announced here. I have no one under consideration to take his place, and he will not be replaced. That is about as emphatic as I can make it.

4 Rear Adm. Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter, Director, Central Intelligence Agency.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, Secretary Brannan is stumping the country for his farm plan. Shouldn't he be here more?

THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't hear you?

Q. Secretary Brannan is stumping the country for his farm plan. I think he has made about 10 speeches. Shouldn't his job keep him here more?

THE PRESIDENT. He is available whenever he is needed. He is on that tour at my suggestion.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the Housing Expediter's decision to decontrol one-third of the rent control--

THE PRESIDENT. The only comment that I have to make is that the Congress did not appropriate enough money to enforce the rent control law, and all the Expediter can do is to use as much money as the Congress gave him. That's the only thing--that's all the trouble. We suggested to the Congress that they give him more money. There was more money in the budget for that purpose.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, considering the terrible reports of the earthquake suffered in Ecuador, would you wish to comment further on anything in the way of encouraging relief--

THE PRESIDENT. I think Dean Acheson covered that thoroughly yesterday; and it was done--his statement was made after consultation with me.5

5See Department of State Bulletin, vol. 21, pp. 312-313.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, have the Mexican oil loan negotiations been resumed?

THE PRESIDENT. They are still under contemplation-under consideration. I don't know whether actually they have been resumed or not.

Q. Did you read the aide memoir between the two countries?


Q. Did you read the aide memoir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes Ma'am, I did.

Q. Any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, Senator George has called for a great reduction in taxes, and especially the elimination of the excise taxes. Since it seems that nothing can be gotten through this year, will you give your blessing to that movement next year?

THE PRESIDENT. If Senator George will find a source of revenue to keep the Government running, why then I have no objection to his reorganization of the tax structure. But the Government must have revenue to run. There has been a lot of yelling now about deficit financing, but so long as 80 percent of the budget is a fixed charge, and that budget has to run on that fixed charge, we have got to find the money to run it.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any plans for the future for the revival of Reorganization Plan 1, your welfare department plan?

THE PRESIDENT. When I am ready, I will answer that question. I don't want to answer it this morning.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, do you approve the Democratic National Committee decision not to invite the national committeemen from the four Dixiecrat States?

THE PRESIDENT. The National Democratic Committee is in control of its membership, and it is made up of Democrats.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, on that tax question, there was a bill submitted to tax exempt cooperatives, and so forth, to take up the difference between that and excise taxes. Any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, it was announced yesterday evening that Yugoslavia is to receive, or has received, a permit to make substantial industrial purchases here. Is there anything you would say on rejoining the ranks of countries that we will apparently befriend?

THE PRESIDENT. The National Security Council studied the situation as it affects Yugoslavia, and made a recommendation to me that this blooming mill be sent to them; and I ordered it sent.6

6The press reported that the President had authorized the sale of a $3 million steel-finishing mill to Yugoslavia.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, I am sorry to revert back to the Vaughan thing, but there is going to be one question that is inevitably going to come up, when your statement comes up, and that is where the White House lays the blame or the responsibility for the fact that those sessions that were favorable to General Vaughan were closed sessions. Is there anything--

THE PRESIDENT. No further comment.

Q. All right, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Draw your own conclusions.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Ambassador Kirk's call on Premier Stalin?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. The American Ambassador reported fully to me about his call; and it was the usual call that an Ambassador makes on the head of a state.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, may I say that I have been covering a great many open sessions of that--

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right, Miss May. I am glad you covered them. [Laughter] You ought to know more about it than I do, because I haven't been there.

Q. They were open.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know a thing about it at all, only what I saw in the papers.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, have you received that Mississippi River survey bill?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. The Mississippi River survey bill, have you signed that yet?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think so. I will sign it, if it comes up to me, because I suggested it.7

7On August 24, 1949, the President signed H.R. 1997, a bill to authorize the survey of a proposed Mississippi River Parkway (Public Law 262, 63 Stat. 626).

[16.] Q. Mr. President, is there any good news in Ambassador Kirk's report?

THE PRESIDENT. No bad news.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to take a vacation this summer or this fall?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, you ask Congress about that. [Laughter] I am here as long as the Congress is here.

Q. Is there any possibility you may go to Long Beach, Calif.?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there is no possibility of that.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and ninetyfourth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 18, 1949.

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/229857

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