311.6121 Gorin, M. N./12

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)

The Soviet Chargé d’Affaires ad interim44 called this [yesterday] afternoon, very much exercised over recent developments in the Gorin case. He began by saying that he had reviewed the indictment and that it was perfectly clear that Gorin was not accused of trying to obtain any secrets involving American national defense but at most was accused of trying to obtain information involving Japanese spies against the United States. Whether or not he was guilty of an infraction of American laws only the court could say. Personally he believed him innocent on this count. In the course of the trial however, two matters had arisen which he must protest most formally and on which he must request redress.

The first was the contention by the U. S. District Attorney that Gorin, in telephoning to the Soviet Embassy in Washington on several occasions at the time of his arrest, showed that he was under the orders of the Soviet Embassy and that the latter was directing his activities. Mr. Mikhail Gorin had in fact telephoned Mr. Oumansky, as the latter [Page 919] had told us at the time, in order to seek protection.45 It was perfectly normal for an alien arrested abroad to communicate with his diplomatic representative.46 American citizens in trouble abroad do it all the time and the United States insists on it as a cherished right. Mr. Oumansky made the point that as the U. S. District Attorney was in fact an agent of the Executive, subject to the orders of the Attorney General,47 the latter could instruct him to refrain from making any such charges as he had already made against a foreign mission and its chief,48 and have such charges already made stricken from the record.

The second was the testimony of a Lieutenant Maxwell who had been present at the interview between Gorin and the Soviet Vice Consul, whom Oumansky had sent from New York, that the latter had advised Gorin not to mention papers found in his clothing, as “we” were admitting nothing.49 Apart from the fact that Mr. Oumansky claimed that the interview dealt exclusively with whether or not Gorin had legal representation and was treated with reasonable comfort, he said that the Vice Consul could not at that point have known anything about papers found in Gorin’s clothing. He asked that something be done about this. I pointed out to Mr. Oumansky that in effect he was accusing an American official of perjury. He said that this might be the conclusion drawn from his remarks but that he maintained them and renewed his request that we protect the Soviet Vice Consul from such charges. I replied that I would take note of what he had said and make it a matter of record but that he was making a serious charge and one which to my mind should be cleared up if possible by the defense before it rested, and that it would be inappropriate for the State Department to express itself in any way on this point.

Mr. Oumansky agreed that the second point was of less importance than the first. He felt that the Executive could and should take immediate [Page 920] action to protect and clear officials of a foreign friendly power. He asked what I suggested. I replied that I thought we could call to the attention of the Attorney General the substance of his representations. He felt that this might be very slow but in any event asked that if we transmitted the memorandum to the Attorney General we should accompany it with appropriate comments. I told him that I would discuss the matter in detail with our Legal Adviser50 and see what he recommended. Mr. Oumansky said that far more than law was involved, and that the friendly atmosphere which existed between the Soviet Union and the United States should be borne in mind.

Pierrepont Moffat
  1. Konstantin Alexandrovich Umansky.
  2. During the trial, testimony was offered by G. V. Dierst, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, that Gorin “would not come to our office … without prior authorization from his superior” and that later Gorin “was able to reach the [Soviet] Ambassador and talked with the Ambassador” on December 13, 1938, The United States District Attorney contended that this was “an admission of the connection of the defendant Gorin with the Russian Government.” Shortly afterwards counsel for both sides agreed to the stipulation that “the Russian Ambassador was not in the country at the time” but that there was “a Chargé d’Affaires in charge of the Russian Embassy in Washington on that date.” The testimony, nevertheless, was not stricken from the record. (311.6121 Gorin, M. N./27)
  3. The court, in its instructions to the jury, informed it to the effect that Gorin was entirely within his rights in telephoning to the Soviet Embassy, and that no inference should be drawn therefrom. In his protest of March 18, 1939, p. 922, the Soviet Chargé ignored this fact.
  4. Frank Murphy.
  5. Alexander Antonovich Troyanovsky, Ambassador of the Soviet Union.
  6. Lieutenant William S. Maxwell had testified that Soviet Vice Consul Mikhail Ivanovitch Ivanushkin had remarked to Gorin during a conversation with him on December 15, 1938, in the presence of witnesses: “We will make no statement in connection with the papers found in the suit [of clothes sent to the dry cleaners].” This testimony remained uncontradicted in the record. (311.6121 Gorin, M. N./27)
  7. Green H. Hackworth.