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 statement)...
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 John Stennis.
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 name him.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I told you! I told you I was going to name Warren...
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 announced.
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 down there?
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 Kennedy.
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 things....
Richard Russell: I know, but this is a sort of rough one.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, it is not rough. What is rough about this? They had a full-scale investigation going, Dick, with the TV up there. They had the House Un-American Activities Committee in it.
Richard Russell: They shouldn't have done it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Of course, but how do I stop it? How do I stop it, Dick? Now don't tell me that I've worked all day and done wrong.
Richard Russell: I didn't say you'd done wrong. I just said... it could have been stopped some other way. . . .
Lyndon B. Johnson: What do you think I've done wrong now by appointing you on a commission?
Richard Russell: Well, I just don't like Warren.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Of course, you don't like Warren, but you'll like him before it is over with.
Richard Russell: I haven't got any confidence in him.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you can give him some confidence. Goddamn it! Associate with him now... I'm not afraid to put your intelligence against Warren's. Now by God, I want a man on that commission and I've got one!
Richard Russell: I don't know about the intelligence, of course, and I feel like I'm being kidded, but if you think...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, if you think now Dick, do you think I'd kid you?
Richard Russell: If it is for the good of the country, you know damned well I'll do it and I'll do it for you, for that matter...
Lyndon B. Johnson: Dick, do you remember when you met me at the Carlton Hotel in 1952? When we had breakfast there one morning?
Richard Russell: Yes, I think I do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: All right. Do you think I'm kidding you?
Richard Russell: No, I don't think you're kidding me. But I think - well, I'm not going to say any more, Mr. President. I'm at your command and I'll do anything you want me to do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: You damned sure going to be at my command! You're going to be at my command as long as I'm here.
Richard Russell: I do wish you be a little more deliberate and considerate next time about it but... if you've done this, I'm going to... go through with it and say I think it is a wonderful idea.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm going to have you on a good goddamned many things that I have to decide.... I've served under you and I don't give a damn if you have to serve with a Republican, if you have to serve with a Communist, if you have to serve with a Negro, or if you have to serve with a thug - or if you have to serve with A.W. Moursund.
Richard Russell: I can serve with a Communist and I can serve with a Negro. I can serve with a Chinaman.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, you may have to serve with A.W. Moursund!
Richard Russell: And if I can serve with A.W. Moursund, I would say, "Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to serve with you, Judge Moursund." But - we won't discuss it any further Mr. President. I'll serve.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Okay, Dick, and give Bobby my love and tell him he'd better get ready to give up that fruitful law practice he's got.
Richard Russell: He's been appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Now, you see, I got him on there. He's making as much money as I am.
Lyndon B. Johnson: What about Vandiver?
Richard Russell: Well, he's running for Governor next time and he'll be elected.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Who in the hell is going to help me besides you?
Richard Russell: Those boys will help you if you need them.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Well, I need 'em.
Richard Russell: Goddamn it, they're harder for you than I was - remember?
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, nobody ever has been more to me than you have, Dick - except my mother.
Richard Russell: (laughs scoffmgly)
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, that's true. I've bothered you more and made you spend more hours with me telling me what's right and wrong than anybody except my mother.
Richard Russell: You've made me do more things I didn't want to do.
Lyndon B. Johnson: No, no, I never made you do anything that was wrong. I never...
Richard Russell: I didn't say "wrong." I said more things I didn't want to do. But Bobby and Ernie are two of the most loyal friends you've got on earth.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I know that.
Richard Russell: They both called me up and said, "You've just got to do whatever Mr. Johnson says."
Lyndon B. Johnson: No ... I just want to counsel with you and I just want your judgment and your wisdom.
Richard Russell: For whatever it's worth, you've got it.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I'm going to have it 'cause I haven't got any daddy and you're going to be it. And don't just forget that.
Richard Russell: Mr. President, you know - I think you know me.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I do. I do. I know you're for your country and - period. Now you just get ready to do this and you're my man on there.
Richard Russell: If you hadn't announced it, I would absolutely be...
Lyndon B. Johnson: No you wouldn't. No, you wouldn't.
Richard Russell: Yes, I would. Yes, I would.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Warren told me he wouldn't do it under any circumstances. Didn't think a Supreme Court Justice ought to go on... He said a man that criticized this fellow that went on the Nuremberg trial - Jackson. And I said, "Let me read you one report." And I just picked up one report and read it to him, and I said, "Okay, now, forty million Americans involved here."
Richard Russell: I may be wholly wrong. But I think Mr. Warren would serve on anything that would give him any publicity.
Lyndon B. Johnson: You want me to tell you the truth? You know what happened? Bobby and them went up to see him today and he turned them down cold and said, "No." Two hours later, I called him and ordered him down here and he didn't want to come. I insisted he come. He came down here and told me no - twice. And I just pulled out what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City and I said, "Now I don't want Mr. Khrushchev to be told tomorrow - and be testifying before a camera that he killed this fellow and that Castro killed him and all I want you to do is look at the facts and bring in any other facts you want in here and determine who killed the President. And I think you put on your uniform in World War I, fat as you are, and would do anything you could to save one American life. And I'm surprised that you, the Chief Justice of the United States, would turn me down." And he started crying and he said, "I won't turn you down. I'll just do whatever you say." But he turned the Attorney General down!
Richard Russell: You ought not to be so persuasive.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I think I ought to.
Richard Russell: I think you did wrong in getting Warren, and I know damned well you did wrong in getting me. But we'll both do the best we can.
Lyndon B. Johnson: I think that's what you'll do. That's the kind of Americans both of you are. Good night.