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LBJ Defends Receipt of Stereo Set Gift from Bobby Baker

Jan. 23, 1964 - President Johnson pictured as innocent today his receipt of an expensive stereophonic phonograph from Robert Baker (left), the former secretary of the Senate majority whose business dealings are under investigation in Washington. Referring to the stereophonic set as a gift of “the Baker family,” the President said that “we had exchanged gifts before.” “We used [the stereo set] for a period. [Baker] was an employee of the public and had no business pending before me and was asking for nothing and so far as I knew expected nothing in return any more than I did when I had presented him with gifts.” The President also gave an account of the purchase of $200,000 of insurance on his life after his heart attack in 1955. But he did not comment on charges that have been made in the Baker investigation that the agent who sold the insurance was forced to buy advertising on the Johnson family television station, KTBC of Austin.

Mr. Johnson, turning from a foreign policy statement on Panama to the Baker case, surprised White House reporters with his remarks. He left the room where he was speaking before they could question him. Mr. Johnson’s unexpected remarks were the first that he has made on the Baker case, a major topic of conversation in Washington since last fall. Mr. Baker was the Democratic secretary while Mr. Johnson was the Senate majority leader and was widely regarded at that time as Mr. Johnson’s protégé. Mr. Baker was forced to resign his post when charges of improper use of his influence were raised against him.


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