INT: So, roll 10118, continuation of an interview with Herb Brownell. So we have to go backwards a little bit, I'm afraid. Can you tell me what Eisenhower had said to you about the episode with Marshall and how he felt about it and how he wanted to deal with it.
HB: ... just the end of it?
INT: Well, it might be useful to just to have a little succinct summary, Eisenhower, Milwaukee, line had been dropped from his speech and so on and so forth.
HB: , I learned about Eisenhower's attitude toward McCarthy first hand at the time he asked me to go back and help him in the Presidential campaign. He told me that earlier in the campaign he had been scheduled to go into Wisconsin and speak there and of course that was the home state of McCarthy and that he didn't want to do that, because he didn't like McCarthy and he didn't want to speak for him. But that his managers persuaded him to do so. At that time, he said, he was not sure enough of his position to know just how far he was required as a candidate to work with the managers and how far he could express his own views and so he went and it turned out to be a disaster politically. And so he asked me to get back into the campaign and he said he wanted to prevent anything like that and my function was to watch out for his interests as distinguished from the interests of other people who were running on the Republican ticket. It turned out to be necessary, because there's always the tendency on the part of political party officials to use the candidate and that's what they were doing with him and he didn't like it, he wasn't used to that sort of thing, after all, he was the hero of the Western world and had been used to planning his own activities and getting things his own way. So that was the way I got acquainted with him really. And central to it was his belief that McCarthy was untrustworthy and really a [unintelligible].
INT: But there was a certain sense in which whilst politically it looked like he was leaving McCarthy alone, he had a great personal distaste for him. Could you describe that a little bit for me and why didn't he tackle McCarthy head on?
HB: He explained that to him. After he became President, of course, he had to deal with the Senate and McCarthy was still the head of this investigating committee. And there is nothing he as President could do about that. That was set up by the Senate and continued by the Senate and as long as the Senate approved it, McCarthy could go ahead and do what he was doing. And so he reviewed the bidding, so to speak and looked at what Truman had done and Truman, violently attacked McCarthy publicly and they had a real set to and they called each other all kinds of names. And course it didn't do anything except build up McCarthy and he said, I'm not going to do that, I'm not going to give him that satisfaction, especially when I know he's running for President and that's exactly what he wants, and is more publicity and having the President of the United States fight with him is perfect for his purposes. And, so he said I'll just wait and bide my time until I get a chance to do something decisive, which was his way of doing business anyway. And that is exactly what he did. And that, of course, is another story, but that is the reason that he didn't follow Truman's technique in attacking McCarthy publicly, even though it did no good and rather helped along McCarthy in his efforts to be an important figure.
INT: But do you think there was a certain amount of personal distaste there. I remember him saying once that he didn't want to get down in the gutter and muck around with that... Have you heard that? Muck around with that skunk?
HB: If he got into a public fight with McCarthy, he would not only be raising McCarthy up to his level, but he'd be lowering himself to McCarthy's level and he felt that McCarthy was a four-flusher and a phoney of the worst kind, and he just didn't want to have anything to do with him. And while he wanted the Senate to do something about it, he realised that under our form of government, it's up to the Senate to regulate its own committees and the President can't do anything about that.
INT: As Attorney General, how did you manage to handle McCarthy? Did you think he went too far and disapprove of what he was doing?
HB: I disapproved of what he was doing, but I'd had no direct contact with him. And he really didn't do anything that impinged on my activities, so as a citizen I disapproved of what he did, I had no official way of dealing with him.
INT: OK. Now I was just wondering whether we could just expand on that a little bit at all. Becuase there were the two House committees, weren't there? Would you be able to describe their activities a little bit and your relationship with them as Attorney General? Because there was the business that you couldn't really take action against McCarthy whilst... You couldn't actually take action against McCarthy while he still had tremendous support and popularity in the Senate. You know, he always seems to be surrounded by a sort of, you know, hard core group of Republican supporters, very difficult to get anywhere near him. Would you be able to describe that a little bit for me?
HB: I'm gonna try. As Attorney General, I didn't have any official dealings with McCarthy. I had indirect relationships, of course, because, as Attorney General I had an anti-Communist programme, rather Eisenhower did and I was the person really directed to carry it out. And McCarthy came long with his so-called anti-Communist programme, which was entirely different and we felt it was quite destructive of our programme and so I tried to carry out our programme in such a way it would be effective and would receive public support. But there was nothing that I could do to really influence McCarthy's own programme, 'cos he was a creature of the Senate and they supported him all through his activities. It wasn't until quite a bit later, that I was able to help the President to destroy him. That came about, by reason of the fact that McCarthy started to investigate the army and he called as witnesses, a lot of people in the army and started indiscriminately calling them traitors and un-American and what not in his usual way, to get headlines. Many of these people were people that had served with Eisenhower during the War and that he knew personally and it infuriated Eisenhower. He asked me to see if there wasn't something that could be done. So I called a meeting in my office and we met with the lawyer for the army to discuss it, in the course of which we found out that McCarthy's assistant, man named Roy Cohn, had at McCarthy's suggestion at least influence, received favours from the army and although he'd been drafted, he was allowed to go home when nobody else could do it and things of that sort. And that gave us the opening that finally brought him down and we investigated enough to have our facts straight and then we reported to that the President and he took it up with the Senators, Republican Senators and they investigated McCarthy for the first time and finally removed him as chairman of the investigative committee. So while that was a long way about, I did finally end up by having some influence in bringing his career to a inglorious end.
INT: And do you know how he felt about it? Was there a...
HB: McCarthy? Of course hated to lose the power, but at that time he was, he as an individual was sort of going to pieces. He was drinking heavily and people finally were because of press exposure and what not, were catching on to how dangerous histactics were. And to a point where some of the Senators that they had to act and so he didn't have much to say about it. He was really removed from the position that he'd held that gave him the power and once he lost his power, he just deteriorated and shortly afterward, died.
INT: Fine. How would you describe McCarthy? Could you give a sort of thumbnail sketch about...?
HB: He was...
INT: Could you also start with McCarthy as well.
HB: Senator McCarthy had an ingratiating personality, I suppose that's why he was elected in the first place, and he, as I recall it, had a very undistinguished record during his first term as a Senator and he was looking around for some issue to latch on to in order to run for a second term, 'cos he didn't have anything to show by of a constructive record in the Senate itself. And he saw some press release about...
INT: Fine, so could you describe Senator McCarthy for me.
HB: I didn't know Senator McCarthy too well, so what I say about him is a personal opinion really based on observation, rather than personal contact with him. My impressions are that he had a very friendly disposition and that he knew how to get votes, he didn't stand for much, he was just a nice fellow, seemingly. And sort of nobody could dislike him at the beginning because he had no outstanding characteristics. And his first term in the Senate was not very impressive.