Mr. RANKIN - Will you state your name?
Mr. ABT - John J. Abt.
Mr. RANKIN - Where do you live?
Mr. ABT - 444 Central Park West, New York City.
Mr. RANKIN - You are a practicing attorney in the city of New York?
Mr. ABT - I am.
Mr. RANKIN - How long have you been practicing law?
Mr. ABT - A long time, Mr. Rankin, since 1927. You do the mathematics.
Mr. RANKIN - You have been informed, I am sure, that Lee Harvey Oswald, after his arrest, tried to reach you to request that you act as his counsel. I don't know how you were informed, but I have seen it in the newspapers. When did it first come to your attention?
Mr. ABT - May I tell you the story, Mr. Rankin? Perhaps that is the simplest way.
Mr. RANKIN - Yes.
Mr. ABT - On Friday evening, the 22d, my wife and I left the city to spend the weekend at a little cabin we have up in the Connecticut woods. Sometime on Saturday, several people phoned me to say that they had heard on the radio that Oswald had asked that I represent him, and then shortly after that the press--both the press, radio, and TV reporters began to call me up there. I may say we have a radio but we have no TV there. And in the interim I turned on the radio and heard the same report.
I informed them--and these calls kept on all day and night Saturday and again Sunday morning--I informed all of the reporters with whom I spoke that I had received no request either from Oswald or from anyone on his behalf to represent him, and hence I was in no position to give any definitive answer to any such proposal if, as and when it came. I told them, however, that if I were requested to represent him, I felt that it would probably be difficult, if not impossible, for me to do so because of my commitments to other clients. I never had any communication, either directly from Oswald or from anyone on his behalf, and all of my information about the whole matter to this day came from what the press told me in those telephone conversations and what I subsequently read in the newspapers.
Mr. RANKIN - Mr. Abt, did you learn that Lee Harvey Oswald was interested in having you represent him apparently because of some prior connection of yours with the American Civil Liberties Union?
Mr. ABT - No. My assumption was, and it is pure assumption, that he read about some of my representation in the press, and, therefore, it occurred to him that I might be a good .man to represent him, but that is pure assumption on my part. I have no direct knowledge of the whole matter.
Mr. RANKIN - You have told us all that you know about it?
Mr. ABT - Yes. I may say that I have had. no prior contact with Oswald, knew nothing about him, did not know the name, and this request came as something entirely new and surprising to me when it came.
Mr. RANKIN - None of your clients had ever communicated to you about him prior to that time you heard about it over the radio?
Mr. ABT - No; I had no recollection of even having heard the name, his name, before that time.
Mr. RANKIN - Thank you.
Mr. ABT - Right.