271. Memorandum for President Eisenhower’s File by the President’s Associate Special Counsel (McPhee)0

From 4:10 to 4:50 this afternoon I met with the President to discuss with him a possible course of action in view of the Comptroller General’s decision cutting off funds for the Office of the Inspector General and Comptroller, Mutual Security, Department of State.1 The President read the attached proposed statement which sets forth the circumstances in detail.2

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The President expressed concern about the possible ramifications of such actions and said that in any event if he did take them he would think their effectiveness should be limited to January 20, the end of his term of office.

I said to the President that we had tried to think of every possible eventuality; that so far we had not found any practical vulnerability in the concept; but that we could not in all honesty guarantee absolutely that events would ensue as we envisioned them.

The President was most emphatic in his determination to uphold the Constitutional principle; he was concerned about the people involved and their loss of jobs. He, nevertheless, was conscious of the many other people (certifying officers, disbursing officers, and others) who would be acting with some degree of risk in proceeding contrary to the decision of the Comptroller General.

The President had talked with the Comptroller General Friday and called him again this afternoon while I was still in the office.3 The President outlined the course of action he was considering and said that he was calling just to say that if it were at all possible he would not like to see a head-on clash between himself and the Comptroller General. The upshot of the conversation was that the Comptroller General said that he would call Congressman Porter Hardy, the Subcommittee Chairman who made the request for documents occasioning this situation. The Comptroller General advised that he would report the results of his conversation with Congressman Hardy.4

Henry Roemer McPhee5
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, White House Central Files, Confidential File. No classification marking.
  2. Joseph Campbell, Comptroller General of the United States, informed Herter in a December 8 letter that unless the Department of State complied with a congressional request for certain documents by Friday, December 9, funds would no longer be available for the Office of the Inspector General and Comptroller. (Attachment, Campbell letter to Eisenhower, December 8; ibid.)
  3. Not attached to the source text. Several undated draft and revised draft statements are ibid., however. Each begins with the statement that Eisenhower had ordered the Secretary of State to continue payments and disbursements for the Office of the Inspector General and Comptroller, as the Attorney General believed Campbell’s decision was based on an erroneous interpretation of the law which would have unconstitutional results.
  4. No further record of these conversations has been found.
  5. On December 23, the White House released a statement by the President certifying he had forbidden disclosure of the requested documents and outlining the reasons for this decision. For text, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960–61, pp. 881–883.
  6. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.