Wednesday, 11 December 2019


(6) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover (10.30 am, 25th November, 1963)

Lyndon B. Johnson: Apparently some lawyer in Justice is lobbying with The Post because that's where the suggestion came from for this presidential commission, which we think would be very bad and put it right in the White House. 

We can't be checking up on every shooting scrape in the country, but they've gone to The Post now to get 'em an editorial, and the Post is calling up and saying they're going to run an editorial if we don't do things. Now we're going to do two things and I wanted you to know about it. 

One - we believe that the way to handle this, as we said yesterday - your suggestion - that you put every facility at your command, making a full report to the Attorney General and then they make it available to the country in whatever form may seem desirable. Second - it's a state matter, too, and the state Attorney General is young and able and prudent and very cooperative with you. He's going to run a Court of Inquiry, which is provided for by state law, and he's going to have associated with him the most outstanding jurists in the country. But he's a good conservative fella and we don't start invading local jurisdictions that way and he understands what you're doing and he's for it... Now if you get too many cooks messing with the broth, it'll mess it up. ... These two are trained organizations and the Attorney General of the state holds Courts of Inquiry every time a law is violated, and the FBI makes these investigations... You ought to tell your press men that that's what's happening and they can expect Waggoner Carr, the Attorney General of Texas, to make an announcement this morning, to have a state inquiry and that you can offer them your full cooperation and vice versa. . . .

J. Edgar Hoover: We'll both work together on it.

Lyndon B. Johnson: And any influence you got with the Post... point out to them that... just picking out a Tom Dewey lawyer from New York and sending him down on new facts - this commission thing - Mr. Herbert Hoover tried that and some- times a commission that's not trained hurts more than it helps.

J. Edgar Hoover: It's a regular circus then.

Lyndon B. Johnson: That's right.

J. Edgar Hoover: Because it'll be covered by TV and everything like that.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Just like an investigating committee.

J. Edgar Hoover: Exactly. I don't have much influence with the Post because I frankly don't read it. I view it like the Daily Worker.

Lyndon B. Johnson: (laughs) You told me that once before. I just want your people to know the facts, and your people can say that. And that kind of negates it, you see?

(7) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover (1.40 pm, 29th November, 1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson: Are you familiar with this proposed group that they're trying to put together on this study of your report and other things - two from the House, two from the Senate, somebody from the Court, a couple of outsiders?

J. Edgar Hoover: No, I haven't heard of that. ... I think it would be very, very bad to have a rash of investigations on this thing.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, the only way we can stop them is probably to appoint a high-level one to evaluate your report and put somebody that's pretty good on it that I can select... and tell the House and the Senate not to go ahead... because they'll get a lot of television going and I thought it would be bad.

J. Edgar Hoover: It would be a three-ring circus.

Lyndon B. Johnson: What do you think about Allen Dulles?

J. Edgar Hoover: I think he would be a good man.

Lyndon B. Johnson: What do you think about John McCloy?

J. Edgar Hoover: I'm not as enthusiastic about McCloy... I'm not so certain as to the matter of the publicity that he might seek on it.

Lyndon B. Johnson: What about General Norstad?

J. Edgar Hoover: Good man.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I thought maybe I might try to get Boggs and Jerry Ford in the House, maybe try to get Dick Russell and maybe Cooper in the Senate.

J. Edgar Hoover: Yes, I think so.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Me and you are just going to talk like brothers. ... I thought Russell could kind of look after the general situation, see that the states and their relations -

J. Edgar Hoover: Russell would be an excellent man.

Lyndon B. Johnson: And I thought Cooper might look after the liberal group.... He's a pretty judicious fellow but he's a pretty liberal fellow. I wouldn't want Javits or some of those on it.

J. Edgar Hoover: No, no, no. Javits plays the front page a lot.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Cooper is kind of border state. It's not the South and it's not the North.

J. Edgar Hoover: That's right.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Do you know Ford from Michigan?

J. Edgar Hoover: I know of him, but I don't know him. I saw him on TV the other night for the first time and he handled himself well on that.

Lyndon B. Johnson: You know Boggs?

J. Edgar Hoover: Oh, yes, I know Boggs.

Lyndon B. Johnson: He's kind of the author of the resolution. That's why. Now Walter tells me - Walter Jenkins - that you've designated Deke (Cartha DeLoach) to work with us, like you did on the Hill, and I tell you I sure appreciate that. I didn't ask for it 'cause ... I know you know how to run your business better than anybody else... We consider him as high-class as you do. And it is a mighty gracious thing to do. And we'll be mighty happy We salute you for knowing how to pick good men.

J. Edgar Hoover: That's mighty nice of you, Mr. President, indeed. We hope to have this thing wrapped up today, but could be we probably won't get it before the first of the week. This angle in Mexico is giving us a great deal of trouble because the story there is of this man Oswald getting $6,500 from the Cuban embassy and then coming back to this country with it. We're not able to prove that fact, but the information was that he was there on the 18th of September in Mexico City and we are able to prove conclusively he was in New Orleans that day. Now then they've changed the dates. The story came in changing the dates to the 28th of September and he was in Mexico City on the 28th. Now the Mexican police have again arrested this woman Duran, who is a member of the Cuban embassy... and we're going to confront her with the original informant, who saw the money pass, so he says, and we're also going to put the lie detector test on him.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Can you pay any attention to those lie detector tests?

J. Edgar Hoover: I wouldn't want to be a party to sending a man to the chair on a lie detector... We've found many cases where we've used them - in a bank where there's been embezzlement - and a person will confess before the lie detector test is finished. They're more or less fearful of the fact that the lie detector test will show them guilty psychologically... Of course, it is a misnomer to call it a lie detector because what it really is is the evaluation of the chart that is made by this machine and that evaluation is made by a human being.... On the other hand, if this Oswald had lived and had taken the lie detector test and it had shown definitely that he had done these various things together with the evidence that we very definitely have, it would just have added that much more strength to it. There is no question but that he is the man now - with the fingerprints and things we have. This fellow Rubenstein down there - he has offered to take the lie detector test but his lawyer has got to be, of course, consulted first and I doubt whether the lawyer will allow it. He's one of these criminal lawyers from the West Coast and somewhat like an Edward Bennett Williams type - and almost as much of a shyster.

Lyndon B. Johnson: (laughs) Have you got any relationship between the two yet?

J. Edgar Hoover: No, at the present time we have not. There was a story down there...

Lyndon B. Johnson: Was he ever in his bar and stuff like that?

J. Edgar Hoover: There was a story that this fellow had been in this nightclub that is a striptease joint, that he had. But that has not been able to be confirmed. Now this fellow Rubenstein is a very shady character, has a bad record-street brawler tighter, and that sort of thing-and in the place in Dallas, if a fellow came in there and couldn t pay his bill completely, Rubenstein would beat the very devil out of him and throw him out of the place... He didn't drink, didn't smoke boasted about that. He is what I would put in a category of one of these - egomaniacs. Likes to be in the limelight. He knew all the police in that white-light district... and he also let them come in, see the show, get food, liquor, and so forth. That s how, I think, he got into police headquarters. Because they accepted him as kind of a police character, hanging around police headquarters They never made any moves, as the pictures show, even when they saw him approaching this fellow and got up right to him and pressed his pistol against Oswald s stomach. Neither of the police officers on either side made any move to push him away or grab him. It wasn't until after the gun was fired that they then moved.... The Chief of Police admits that he moved him in the morning as a convenience and at the request of morion-picture people, who wanted to have daylight. He should have moved him at night... But so far as tying Rubenstein and Oswald together we haven't as yet done. So there have been a number of stories come in, we've tied Oswald into the Civil Liberties Union in New York, membership into that and, of course, this Cuban Fair Play Committee which is pro-Castro and dominated by Communism and financed, to some extent, by the Castro government.

Lyndon B. Johnson: How many shots were fired? Three?

J. Edgar Hoover: Three.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Any of them fired at me?

J. Edgar Hoover: No.

Lyndon B. Johnson: All three at the President?

J. Edgar Hoover: All three at the president and we have them. Two of the shots fired at the President were splintered but they had characteristics on them so that our ballistics expert was able to prove that they were fired by this gun. The President - he was hit by the first and third. The second shot hit the Governor the third shot is a complete bullet and that rolled out of the President's head It tore a large part of the President's head off and, in trying to massage his heart at the hospital on the way to the hospital, they apparently loosened that and it fell off onto the stretcher. And we recovered that... And we have the gun here also.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Were they aiming at the President?

J. Edgar Hoover: They were aiming directly at the President. There is no question about that. This telescopic lens, which I've looked through-it brings a person as close to you as if they were sitting right beside you. And we also have tested the fact that you could fire those three shots... within three seconds. There had been some stories going around... that there must have been more than one man because no one man could fire those shots in the time that they were fired...

Lyndon B. Johnson: How did it happen they hit Connally?

J. Edgar Hoover: Connally turned to the President when the first shot was fired and I think in that turning, it was where he got hit.

Lyndon B. Johnson: If he hadn't turned, he probably wouldn't have got hit?

J. Edgar Hoover: I think that is very likely.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Would the President've got hit with the second one?

J. Edgar Hoover: No, the President wasn't hit with the second one.

Lyndon B. Johnson: I say, if Connally hadn't been in his way?

J. Edgar Hoover: Oh, yes, yes, the President would no doubt have been hit.

Lyndon B. Johnson: He would have been hit three times.

J. Edgar Hoover: He would have been hit three times from the fifth floor of that building where we found the gun and the wrapping paper in which the gun was wrapped... and upon which we found the full fingerprints of this man Oswald. On that floor we found the three empty shells that had been fired and one shell that had not been fired... He then threw the gun aside and came down. At the entrance of the building, he was stopped by a police officer and some manager in the building told the police officer, "Well, he's all right. He works there. You needn't hold him." They let him go... And then he got on a bus... He went out to his home and got ahold of a jacket.... and he came back downtown... and the police officer who was killed stopped him, not knowing'who he was and not knowing whether he was the man, but just on suspicion. And he fired, of course, and killed the police officer. Then he walked.

Lyndon B. Johnson: You can prove that?

J. Edgar Hoover: Oh, yes, oh, yes, we can prove that. Then he walked about another two blocks and went to the theater and the woman at the theater window selling the tickets, she was so suspicious the way he was acting, she said he was carrying a gun... He went into the theater and she notified the police and the police and our man down there went in there and located this particular man. They had quite a struggle with him. He fought like a regular lion and he had to be subdued, of course, and was then brought out and... taken to the police headquarters....

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well your conclusion is: (1) he's the one that did it; (2) the man he was after was the President; (3) he would have hit him three times, except the Governor turned.

J. Edgar Hoover: I think that is correct.

Lyndon B. Johnson: (4) That there is no connection between he and Ruby that you can detect now. 

And (5) whether he was connected with the Cuban operation with money, you're trying to...

J. Edgar Hoover: That's what we're trying to nail down now, because he was strongly pro-Castro, he was strongly anti-American, and he had been in correspondence, which we have, with the Soviet embassy here in Washington and with the American Civil Liberties Union and with this Committee for Fair Play to Cuba... None of those letters, however, dealt with any indication of violence or contemplated assassination. They were dealing with the matter of a visa for his wife to go back to Russia. Now there is one angle to this thing that I'm hopeful to get some word on today. This woman, his wife, had been very hostile. She would not cooperate, speaks... Russian only. She did say to us yesterday down there that if we could give her assurance that she would be allowed to remain in this country, she might cooperate. I told our agents down there to give her that assurance... and I sent a Russian-speaking agent into Dallas last night to interview her.... Whether she knows anything or talks anything, I, of course, don't know and won't know till -

Lyndon B. Johnson: Where did he work in the building? On this same floor?

J. Edgar Hoover: He had access on all floors.

Lyndon B. Johnson: But where was his office?

J. Edgar Hoover: He didn't have any particular office... Orders came in for certain books and some books would be on the first floor, second floor, third floor, and so forth... He was just a general packer of the requisitions that came in for school books for the Dallas schools there and therefore he had access... to the fifth floor and to the sixth floor. Usually most of the employees were down on a lower floor.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Did anybody hear, did anybody see him on the fifth floor or...

J. Edgar Hoover: Yes, he was seen on the fifth floor by one of the workmen there before the assassination took place. He was seen there so that...

Lyndon B. Johnson: Did you get a picture of him shooting?

J. Edgar Hoover: Oh, no. There was no picture taken of him shooting.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well what was this picture that that fellow sold for $25,000?

J. Edgar Hoover: That was a picture taken of the parade and showing Mrs. Kennedy climbing out of the back seat. You see, there was no Secret Service man standing on the back of the car. Usually the presidential car in the past has had steps on the back, next to the bumpers, and there's usually been one on either side standing on those steps. . . . Whether the President asked that that not be done,

Lyndon B. Johnson: Do you have a bulletproof car?

J. Edgar Hoover: Oh, yes I do.

Lyndon B. Johnson: You think I ought to have one?

J. Edgar Hoover: I think you most certainly should have one.. I have one here... I use it here for myself and if we have any raids to make or have to surround a place where anybody is hidden in, we use the bulletproof car on that because you can bulletproof the entire car, including the glass, but it means that the top has to remain up.... But I do think you ought to have a bulletproof car... I understand that the Secret Service has had two cars with metal plates underneath the car to take care of a hand grenade or bomb that might be thrown out and rolled along the street. Of course, we don't do those things in this country. In Europe, that is the way they assassinate the heads of state.... They've been after General de Gaulle, you know, with that sort of thing. But in this country, all of our assassinations have been with guns... I was very much surprised when I learned that this bubble-top thing was not bulletproof in any respect and that the plastic - the top to it was down. Of course, the President had insisted upon that so that he could stand up and wave to the crowd. Now it seems to me that the President ought to always be in a bulletproof car. It certainly would prevent anything like this ever happening again... You could have a thousand Secret Service men on guard and still a sniper can snipe you from up in the window if you are exposed, like the President was...

Lyndon B. Johnson: You mean, if I ride around my ranch, I ought to be in a bulletproof car?

J. Edgar Hoover: I would certainly think so, Mr. President. It seems to me that that car down at your ranch there, the little car that we rode around in when I was down there, I think that ought to be bulletproof. I think it ought to be done very quietly. There is a concern, I think, out in Cincinnati, where we have our cars bulletproofed. I think we've got four, one on the West Coast, one in New York, and one here and I think it can be done quietly, without any publicity being given to it or any pictures being taken of it if it's handled properly. But I think you ought to have it at the ranch there. It is perfectly easy for somebody to get onto the ranch.

Lyndon B. Johnson: You think those entrances all ought to be guarded though, don't you?

J. Edgar Hoover: Oh, I think by all means... You've got to really almost be in the capacity of a so-called prisoner because without that security, anything can be done. Now we've gotten a lot of letters and phone calls over the last three or four or five days. We got one about this parade the other day that they were going to try to kill you then and I talked with the Attorney General about it. I was very much opposed to that marching from the White House.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, the Secret Service told them not to, but the family felt otherwise.

J. Edgar Hoover: That's what Bobby told me... I was very much opposed to it because it was even worse than down there in Dallas - you know, walking down the center of the street.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes, yes, that's right.

J. Edgar Hoover: And somebody on the sidewalk could dash out. I noticed even on Pennsylvania Avenue - I viewed the procession coming back from the Capitol, and while they had police assigned along the curbstone looking at the crowd, when the parade came along, the police turned around and looked at the parade...

Lyndon B. Johnson: (laughs)

J. Edgar Hoover:... which was the worst thing to do. They also had a line of soldiers, but they were looking at the parade.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, I'm going to take every precaution I can... and I wish you'd put down your thoughts on that a little bit, because you're more than the head of the Federal Bureau. As far as I'm concerned, you're my brother and personal friend. You have been for twenty-five to thirty years... I know you don't want anything happening to your family.

J. Edgar Hoover: Absolutely not!

Lyndon B. Johnson: I've got more confidence in your judgment than anybody in town. So you just put down some of the things you think ought to happen and I won't involve you or quote you or get you in jurisdictional disputes or anything, but I'd like to at least advocate them as my opinion.

J. Edgar Hoover: I'll be very glad to indeed. I certainly appreciate your confidence.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Thank you, Edgar. Thank you.

(8) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Charles Halleck, House Minority Leader (6.30 pm, 29th November, 1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson: Charlie, I hate to bother you but. . . I've got to appoint a commission and issue an executive order tonight on investigation of the assassination of the President because this thing is getting pretty serious and our folks are worried about it. It's got some foreign complications - CIA and other things - and I'm going to try to get the Chief Justice to go on it. He declined earlier in the day, but I think I'm going to try to get him to head it....

Charles Halleck: Chief Justice Warren?

Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes.

Charles Halleck: I think that's a mistake....

Lyndon B. Johnson: I'd be glad to hear you, but I want to talk to you about - he thought it was a mistake till I told him everything we knew and we just can't have House and Senate and FBI and other people going around testifying that Khrushchev killed Kennedy or Castro killed him. We've got to have the facts, and you don't have a President assassinated once every fifty years. And this thing is so touchy from an international standpoint that every man we've got over there is concerned about it....

Charles Halleck: I'll cooperate, my friend. I'll tell you one thing, Lyndon - Mr. President - I think that to call on Supreme Court guys to do jobs is kind of a mistake.

Lyndon B. Johnson: It is on all these other things I agree with you on Pearl Harbor and I agree with you on the railroad strike. But this is a question that could involve our losing thirty-nine million people. This is a judicial question.

Charles Halleck: I, of course, don't want that to happen. Of course, I was a little disappointed in the speech the Chief Justice made. I'll talk to you real plainly. He's jumped at the gun and, of course, I don't know whether the right wing was in this or not. You've been very discreet. You have mentioned the left and the right and I am for that.

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