KC Johnson

LBJ & Abe Fortas, 13 Oct. 1964

After confirming from Fortas that the charges against Walter Jenkins were true, Johnson ordered his confidante to obtain fundraising files [relating to a plan to fundraise off of Kennedy Cultural Center appointments] from Jenkins’ office.

President Johnson: Abe, Mary Lasker and these folks—the various people—

Fortas: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: —of that type have been seeing him every day or two for the last few days, and you ought to talk to him and talk to Mildred so that what his situation is goes over to you.

Fortas: So that what?

President Johnson: What he has goes over to you.

Fortas: All right, sir. I’ll take care of it.

President Johnson: Do you follow me? Do you follow me?

Fortas: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Mary Lasker and some of ‘em—different, a good many folks have been talking to him. Clark has; tell Clark about it, so that you can go talk to Mildred about it.

Fortas: Clark and I will handle it; yes, sir.

[Break.]

President Johnson: [Pauses.] I think that you ought to—will you be seeing him at all?

Fortas: I can. I have access to him.

President Johnson:I think you ought to see him and ask him where he has these materials, so that you can be positive of that right away.

Fortas: Where he has the what?

President Johnson: This Mary stuff—Mary Lasker stuff.

Fortas: Yeah. I’ll see him and find out where that is and get it.

President Johnson: Yeah.

Fortas: All right.

President Johnson: Because it’s—I’ll be using this next week in television and everything.

Fortas: I see.

President Johnson: You better do that, though, right away.

Fortas: I’ll do that right away.

President Johnson: OK.

———

An hour later, the President checked back with Fortas, wanting to know if he had obtained the Lasker material.

President Johnson: Did you take care of that thing that I told you to? [Pauses.] Have you been by Walter’s office?

Abe Fortas: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: Did you get that material?

Fortas: It’s all taken care of. I don’t have the material, but it’s all in order.

President Johnson: Well . . .

Fortas: I know where it is, and everything about it.

President Johnson: Well, I sure hope that you can get it over to your place.

Fortas: All right, sir—

President Johnson: I think that’s important.

Fortas: I’ll do that.

President Johnson: Eddie’s [Weisl] here with me, and he has been in there several times. Said lots of names involved, and lots of other things.

Fortas: Yes, sir.

President Johnson: I think you ought to go by this evening. Pack up your papers and your briefcase; get Mildred [Steagall] to meet you there.

Fortas: All right, sir. I’ll do that.


This matter is discussed in the book—in this clip, with Jenkins’ secretary, Mildred Steagall, and Abe Fortas, confirms Johnson’s instructions that Fortas get to the office and remove the damaging material before the FBI arrived.

Mildred Steagall: Deke [DeLoach] is on his way over.

President Johnson: Well, you see that Abe gets all your material . . .

Steagall: Yes. Everything?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Steagall: All right, sir. Anything you want to tell him, because he’s right here.

[Break.]

President Johnson: Because I’m fearful that as Deke’s boys go to following through, that they might be coming over there [to Jenkins’ office] looking for confidential papers, and other things. And I wanted to be sure that you had been there.

Abe Fortas: Here?

President Johnson: Yeah.

Fortas: At the office.

President Johnson: Yeah. Yeah.

Fortas: I’m already here.

President Johnson: I wanted to be sure that you got in there and got all that material—

Fortas: Yes, sir. I’ll do that.

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