Richard Russell: The only argument about it is that, of course,
in a matter of this magnitude... the American people would feel
reassured to have a member of the highest Court... If you would
have some top-flight state Supreme Court Chief Justice - but
they're not known all over the country... This thing in
television and radio has narrowed the group of celebrities. I
don't know. You've got some smart boys there around you who can
give you the name of some outstanding Circuit Court judge.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay. You be thinking.
(4) Telephone conversation between Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard
Russell (8.55 p.m 29th November, 1963)
Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick, I hate to bother you again but I wanted
you to know that I made that announcement.
Richard Russell: Announcement of what?
Lyndon B. Johnson: Of this special commission.
Richard Russell: Oh, you have already?
Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes. May I read it to you? (reads from the
Richard Russell: I know I don't have to tell you of my devotion
to you but I just can't serve on that Commission. I'm highly
honoured you'd think about me in connection with it but I
couldn't serve on it with Chief Justice Warren. I don't like
that man. I don't have any confidence in him at all. So you get
Lyndon B. Johnson: It has already been announced and you can
serve with anybody for the good of America and this is a
question that has a good many more ramifications than on the
surface and we've got to take this out of the arena where
they're testifying that Khrushchev and Castro did this and did
that and chuck us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans
in an hour. And you would put on your uniform in a minute. Now
the reason I've asked Warren is because he is the Chief Justice
of this country and we've got to have the highest judicial
people we can have. The reason I ask you is because you have
that same kind of temperament and you can do anything for your
country. And don't go to giving me that kind of stuff about you
can't serve with anybody. You can do anything.
Richard Russell: It is not only that. I just don't think the
Chief Justice should have served on it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: The Chief Justice ought to do anything he can
to save America and right now we've got a very touchy thing. And
you wait until you look at this evidence.... Now I'm not going
to lead you wrong and you're not going to be an Old Dog Tray.
Richard Russell: I know that but I have never...
Lyndon B. Johnson: You've never turned your country down. This
is not me. This is your country... You're my man on that
commission and you're going to do it! And don't tell me what you
can do and what you can't because I can't arrest you and I'm not
going to put the FBI on you. But you're goddammed sure going to
serve - I'll tell you that! And A.W. Moursund is here and he
wants to tell you how much all of us love you. Wait a minute.
Richard Russell: Mr. President, you ought to have told me you
were going to name me.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I told you! I told you today I was going to
name the Chief Justice when I called you.
Richard Russell: You did not. You talked about getting somebody
from the Supreme Court. You didn't tell me you were going to
Lyndon B. Johnson: I told you! I told you I was going to name
Richard Russell: Oh no! ... I said Clark wouldn't do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, that's right, and I've got to get the
highest Justice I can get. He turned Bobby Kennedy down! Bobby
and they talked to him and he just said he wouldn't serve under
any circumstances.11 called him down here and I spent an hour
with him and I begged him as much as I'm begging you. I just
said, "Now here's the situation I want to tell you."
Richard Russell: You've never begged me. You've always told me.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, I haven't. No I haven't.
Richard Russell: Mr. President, please now...
Lyndon B. Johnson: No! It is already done. It has been
Richard Russell: You mean you've given that...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Yes sir. I gave the announcement. It is
already in the papers and you're on it and you're going to be my
man on it and you just forget that. Now wait a minute. A.W.
wants to say a word to you and I'll be back.
A.W. MOURSUND: Hello, Senator. We were just sitting here talking
and he says, "I've got one man that's smarter than all the rest
of them put together."
Richard Russell: You don't have to butter me up.
MOURSUND: I ain't buttering you up. Senator. You know I'm not
that kind of a fellow. I just heard that and I wanted you to
know it. Hell, he's depending on you. You know that.
Richard Russell: I don't know when I've been as unhappy about a
thing as I am this.
MOURSUND: I know, but you can take them. God Almighty, you've
taken it for years and the hard ones and the tough ones, and you
can take care of it and you can take care of yourself.
Richard Russell: How are things down in Texas? Kill any deer
MOURSUND: But you come see us. But don't say you can't do
anything 'cause you're the best can-do man there is.
Richard Russell: Oh, no, oh, no.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick? Now we're going into a lot of
problems... I saw Wilkins today and had a long talk with him.
Now these things are going to be developing and I know you're
going to have your reservations and your modesty.
Richard Russell: Oh...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Now, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Now your
President's asking you to do these things and there are some
things I want you in besides civil rights and, by God, you're
going to be in 'em, because I can't run this country by myself.
Richard Russell: You know damned well my future is behind me,
and that is not entering into it at all.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Your future is your country and you're going
to do everything you can to serve America.
Richard Russell: I just can't do it. I haven't got the time.
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right, we'll just make the time.
RUSSELL: With all my Georgia items in there.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, we'll just make the time. There's not
going to be any time, to begin with. All you're going to do is
evaluate the Hoover report he has already made.
Richard Russell: I don't think they'll move that fast on it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay, well then, we won't move any faster
than you want to move... The Secretary of State came over here
this afternoon. He's deeply concerned, Dick, about the idea that
they're spreading throughout the Communist world that Khrushchev
killed Kennedy. Now he didn't. He didn't have a damned thing to
do with it.
Richard Russell: I don't think he did directly. I know
Khrushchev didn't because he thought he'd get along better with
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right, but we've...
Richard Russell: I wouldn't be surprised if Castro had.
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right then, okay. That's what we want to
know. And people have got confidence in you and you can be just
surprised or not surprised. They want to know what you think...
Richard Russell: You're taking advantage of me...
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, no. . . . I'm going to take a hell of
a lot of advantage of you, my friend, 'cause you made me and I
know it and I don't ever forget. And I'll be going to be taking
advantage of you a good deal. But you're going to serve your
country and do what is right and if you can't do it, you get
that damned little Bobby up there and let him twist your tail
and put a cocklebur under it. Where is he?
Richard Russell: I don't know. He's in Atlanta tonight.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you just tell him to get ready because
I'm going to need him and you just tell him that.
Richard Russell: I saw he and Vandiver this afternoon for about
thirty minutes. They came by here.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Just tell either one of them that I just
would like to use them anyplace because I'm a Russell protege
and I don't forget my friends and I want you to stand up and be
counted and I don't want to beg you, by God, to serve on these
Richard Russell: I know, but this is a sort of rough one.