FACT CHECK: Did LBJ Conduct White House Meetings On The Toilet?
Michael Caputo, former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump, claimed Sunday on CNN that former President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) conducted White House meetings while on the toilet.
Johnson exhibited unorthodox and flamboyant behavior during his presidency, including meetings held in the bathroom.
Sensational anecdotes and interview excerpts from author Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire And Fury,” have fueled speculation by Democrats and some in the media that Trump is unfit for office. Wolff has claimed that “100 percent” of the people in Trump’s orbit question his intelligence and fitness.
Trump has called the book “phony,” and many of his allies, including Caputo, appeared on the Sunday news shows to defend the President.
“This makes me want to holler. I mean, it really does. Don’t forget that LBJ used to do White House meetings on the toilet, alright?” Caputo said on “State of the Union.” “The idea that this president is somehow, you know, unfit for office is spin. It’s designed to be the new Russia investigation for 2018.”
Biographical accounts indeed reveal that Johnson often conducted meetings with aides while sitting on the toilet.
Describing a participant of one such meeting, Johnson remarked to a former aide and biographer, “You’d think he had never seen those parts of the body before. For there he was, standing as far away from me as he possibly could, keeping his back toward me the whole time, trying to carry on a conversation. I could barely hear a word he said.”
Johnson even had phones installed in White House bathrooms to take calls on the toilet.
Lavatory meetings were just one of many oddities of his tenure as president. Johnson began many days by meeting with aides while he and his wife were still in bed, according to a Johnson biography.
“Johnson would continue working with one or two aides throughout his morning toilet,” wrote former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph Califano, Jr. “He’d get out of bed, disrobe, get into his high-pressure shower, bringing the aide into the bathroom outside the shower as he continued to discuss whatever was at hand.”
“He would be talking,” explained Califano, “as he emerged drying himself and continue, standing naked as he shaved, brushed his teeth with an electric toothbrush, and combed his hair.”
Johnson also compared the size of his genitalia – which he nicknamed “Jumbo” – to that of his male aides during skinny-dipping sessions at the White House swimming pool.
This type of “intimacy,” as one biographer described it, between Johnson and those around him was not limited to the White House.
Johnson completely and casually stripped down, for instance, while taking questions from reporters aboard Air Force One after making a stump speech during the 1964 presidential campaign.
His odd behavior included pranks as well. He would often take unsuspecting guests at his Texas ranch on joy rides – keeping the fact that his car was amphibious to himself – driving it into a lake while yelling that the brakes were shot.
Yet historians highly regard Johnson’s presidency, which ushered in landmark civil rights and other “Great Society” legislation.
“Passing laws was what LBJ knew how to do,” former President Barack Obama remarked at a 2014 speech at the Johnson Presidential Library. “No one knew politics and no one loved legislating more than President Johnson. He was charming when he needed to be, ruthless when required.”
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