Lyndon Johnson, George Smathers

The recording starts after the conversation has begun.

President Johnson: You said something about the other day you wanted me to call you ahead of time.

George Smathers: Yes. I appreciate it.

President Johnson: That's number 1. Now, let me see [what] is number 2 . . . Oh yeah, on the ambassador, I've asked them to see if they can't bully through on the agrément and we'll see what we hear from the Irish  and I'll let you know.1 And he ought to by all means, though, get his two senators to go and talk to every man on Foreign Relations [Committee], and you ought to.

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: So that  they don't get into a lot of questioning of him.

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: And they ought to--[Robert] Byrd ought to go and tell all the Republicans that this is a man he wants and he ought tell [J. William] Fulbright he is a wonderful man and he ought to just say him and so forth.

Smathers: Right. [Unclear.]

President Johnson: You get that on it. That ought to be done the [in] next two or three days while this agrément coming in--

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: So they can say it. And just say he's [Winston] Churchill's nephew.

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: And I wouldn't say anything about the race horses.

Right. I won't.

President Johnson: And--

Smathers: I told him to get ahold of Willis Smith's best friend--I mean Willis Robertson's best friend and get him to  get letters to Willis immediately, and he said he would.2

President Johnson: OK. All right. Well, Byrd came down here with him, and Byrd was strong for him. But Byrd is lazy and you have to get him to do things with that committee all year, on tax bill, I remember.

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: So what you do is get him to come and get Byrd and make Byrd go and check them off.

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: And you just look at the ones--Russell Long's on there--

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: --and go over and get them to say all of them just don't amount to anything and then just get him to poll them, report them out. He'll have a good FBI.3

Smathers: Right.

President Johnson: OK.

Smathers: We'll do it. Thank you very much.

President Johnson: Bye.

Smathers: Bye. 

  • 1. Agrément refers to a diplomatic protocol whereby a government, prior to dispatching a diplomatic envoy or ambassador, seeks approval from the receiving state that the envoy is acceptable. It usually comes in the form of a diplomatic note.
  • 2. Willis Robertson was a Democratic Senator from Virginia and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
  • 3. Johnson is presumably referring to the regular FBI background check, a requirement for any diplomatic appointment.

Original tape courtesy of LBJ Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.