Dictabelt 10A.6

John Kennedy, Clark Clifford
White House Telephone

[The taping begins while the conversation is already in progress.]

Clark Clifford: . . . well--

President Kennedy: You heard about that?

Clifford: --it just so happens that one minute ago Mr. Jerry Seigel of the Washington Post called, and he's just this instant come into my office with something that he said he was to bring me from [Philip L.] Phil [Graham]. 1.

President Kennedy: Right.

Clifford: Now--

President Kennedy: Well, why don't you read it, if you would, and then perhaps you and I should talk--and the real--it's murderous.

Clifford: What the [unclear].

President Kennedy: Well, he's going to really cause us endless grief with this one if they print it. And he wants to print it for Friday. Now, the question really is how we try to prevent him from carrying because it's really--what he's doing is--this is really an attack on--well, I don't know what it is, but it certainly is--it would be a hell of a headache for me, which may be part of his mixed up purpose. But--and very bad for the corporation and the directors and everybody. Would you read it and call me back.2

Clifford: Yes, sir. Can you--hold just a second.

President Kennedy: Yeah.

Clifford: [Speaking off the phone to Jerry Seigel] Now, did--Jerry, did Phil say for you to bring this to me and then I was to read it and then . . . and then what . . . that I would know what to do? . . . Oh . . . Oh . . . What--did he indicate in any way that after I read it I was to get in touch with him? With Phil? . . . Oh . . . Yeah. . . . Oh. Well, when--when did you take it to [Special Assistant to the President Ralph] Dungan? Just--Oh, I see. Oh, yeah. Well, all right.

President Kennedy: Did they say that he has decided to print it or that he's susceptible to reasoning on it?

Clifford: Oh . . . he . . . Oh, that's right. [Speaking on the phone to President Kennedy] Mr. Seigel is saying that Phil, as of the last word that they had from him, still seems determined to want to publish this--

President Kennedy: Yeah.

Clifford: --before the hearings start, which--and they start on Monday.

President Kennedy: Yeah.

Clifford: So, let me read it, and let me talk to Mr. Seigel and then I'll have to--and then I'll be back--

President Kennedy: Fine.

Clifford: --in touch with you.

President Kennedy: OK. Fine.

Clifford: All right, Mr. President.

President Kennedy: Thank you. Fine.

Clifford: Bye.

  • 1. Philip L. Graham was publisher of the Washington Post.
  • 2. President Kennedy is referring to the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT), a global telecommunications company that had just recently been created by the United States government as a private corporation.