Three New Deal Lawyers

Westbrook Pegler

Tampa Tribune/February 28, 1949

Three New Deal lawyers who were implicated in the testimony of Whittaker Chambers, the confessed and repentant Soviet spy, refused to say whether or not they were or ever had been members of the Communist Party. They claimed a right guaranteed by Article V of the Bill of Rights where it says that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.

The three lawyers are Nathan Witt, Lee Pressman and John Abt. Witt and Pressman are alumni of Harvard Law. Abt is an alumnus of the University of Chicago, whose institutional hue is identical with that of those happy hot dogs who followed Felix Frankfurter from Harvard to Washington to constitute his invisible government.

All three are members of the New York bar. In response to a proposal that the association should consider whether these men were fit to continue in the profession, the committee on professional ethics decided that such refusal to testify was not unethical conduct. The committee cited a decision by the court of appeals, the highest court in the state, which held that certain lawyers in a previous case could not be disciplined for refusing to yield their constitutional privilege. Dismissal from the association would not be punishment, however, because membership is a privilege, not a right.

As a comment on the sincerity of Philip Murray, president of the CIO, in his current role of a holy man crusading against Communism, the fact may be cited that Pressman said he was general counsel of the CIO “from 1936 until February of 1948.” Thus this happy hot dog of the Frankfurter cult, which includes also Dean Acheson, the present Secretary of State, was Philip Murray’s official lawyer for practically the entire life of the CIO until less than one year ago. Nevertheless, Pressman solemnly refused to answer whether he was acquainted with Murray.

Robert Stripling, the chief investigator of the House Un-American Activities Committee, read from Whittaker Chambers’ testimony the following statement: “The head of the underground group at the time I knew it was Nathan Witt. Later John Abt became the leader. Other members were Lee Pressman, Alger Hiss, Donald Hiss, Victor Perlo and Charles Kramer.”

This was the basis for the questions put to Witt, Pressman and Abt.

The following is Witt’s own statement of the important government jobs that were thrown to him when he joined the covert crew of Felix Frankfurter’s proteges in the government early in the Roosevelt reign, while the people were all unsuspecting:

First employed in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in August, 1933. In February, 1934, he joined the legal staff of the old National Labor Relations Board. Until December, 1935, he was attorney on the staff of the Labor Relations Board. He then became assistant general counsel of the NLRB. In November, 1937, he became secretary of the board. He remained such until December of 1940. He then resigned following an expose by Congressman Smith, of Virginia, which revealed Communists to two dominant jobs on the board.

Thus he was secretary, the key position, throughout the time when the CIO’s professional riot leaders under Communist direction were terrorizing much of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania under the protection and political guidance of the Labor Relations Board.

Lee Pressman, Murray’s old counsel, said he held the following positions in the government: assistant general counsel of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration; general counsel to the Works Progress Administration; general counsel of the Resettlement Administration, under Rexford Tugwell, administrator.

During Pressman’s term as assistant general counsel of the AAA his boss, the chief counsel, was Jerome N. Frank, who now sits on the bench of the United States Court of Appeals in New York. Frank, another of the happy hot dogs, was a sponsor of Alger Hiss, who was named by Chambers as his State Department contact and leak during the period of espionage. Frankfurter also indorsed Hiss and got him his first and several subsequent jobs in Washington.

Abt entered the government in 1933 in the AAA also under Jerome Frank. He was thereafter assistant general counsel of the WPA, special counsel of the Securities and Exchange Commission and chief counsel to an investigation conducted by Robert M. LaFollette, then a Senator from Wisconsin, into violations of “civil liberties” of CIO rioters during the insurrections. In 1937 he became special assistant to the attorney general in charge of the trial section of the anti-trust division.

He was general counsel of Henry Wallace’s Progressive, or Kremlinite, party in 1948. He next went to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers by invitation of the late Sidney Hillman in 1938. It was Hillman who organized the Political Action Committee and “cleared” Harry S. Truman for Vice President of the United States in 1914.

Not only Murray but Judge Jerome Frank and Justice Felix Frankfurter invite public belief that they did not suspect that any of these men was engaged in activities which might be questioned. It is not necessary to believe them. It is permissible to believe that they had not mere suspicions but actual knowledge of the associations and objectives of Witt, Pressman and Abt—whatever they were.



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