LBJ-Russell 11-29-63, 2nd call


Return to:    LBJ Phone Calls - November 1963
  TRANSCRIPT    (PDF: 514 K)

This fascinating conversation between President Johnson and his old mentor Senator Richard Russell is very revealing. Johnson begins by reading to Russell the announcement of the formation of the President's Commission to study the assassination, to which he has named Russell. Not realizing that it's a done deal, Russell complains that he "couldn't serve on it with Chief Justice Warren--I don't like that man" and pleads with Johnson to reconsider. LBJ tells him that "Dick, it's 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 Khruschev and Castro did this and did that and kicking us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour."

Toward the end of the conversation, Johnson re-invokes the image of 40 million Americans killed in a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union, and then tells Russell how he got Warren to serve on the Commission. After Warren refused several times, Johnson called him to the Oval Office and told him "what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City," whereupon Warren began crying and told Johnson "well I won't turn you down, I'll just do whatever you say."

Complete Recording15:36WMAMOVMP3 


Excerpt 100:54WMAMOVMP3 
In this clip, LBJ cuts off Russell's objections to serving on the Commission, telling him that "Dick, it's already been announced."
Excerpt 200:32WMAMOVMP3 
LBJ tells Russell that the "Secretary of State came over this afternoon...he's deeply concerned, Dick, about the idea that they're spreading throughout the Communist world that Khruschev killed Kennedy." Of course, this idea was in reality spreading throughout the American Government, not the Communist world, which by and large assumed that a right-wing plot had killed Kennedy.
Excerpt 301:12WMAMOVMP3 
In this excerpt, LBJ tells the story of how he got a reluctant Chief Justice Earl Warren to serve on the Commission which would afterward bear his name. This short excerpt provides one of the most direct means of understanding how a cover-up was perpetrated by those, like Warren, who were not involved in the assassination and would not under normal circumstances be what Sylvia Meagher termed "Accessories After the Fact."