Oral history transcript, Sheldon Cohen, interview 1 (I), 10/18/1968, by David G. McComb


Oral history transcript, Sheldon Cohen, interview 1 (I), 10/18/1968, by David G. McComb

Number of Pages:



Biographical information; Cohen's work as a legislative attorney for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the early 1950s; why Cohen left the IRS for the Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison law firm in 1956; Cohen's work with Adlai Stevenson; how Cohen met LBJ; Carolyn Agger Fortas; Lady Bird Johnson as a businesswoman; Cohen's legal work for the Johnsons; Cohen's work for the Arnold, Fortas and Porter law firm; Cohen's relationship with Walter Jenkins; the day of JFK's assassination; meeting to discuss how the Johnsons should handle their personal legal affairs now that LBJ was president; LBJ settling into the presidency and the atmosphere around his office; Cohen planning and drafting trust instruments for the Johnsons; LBJ's televised Thanksgiving 1963 speech; LBJ gathering information and advice in the first few weeks of his presidency; the Johnsons signing the trust instruments; Cohen's work arranging for the sale of The Elms; items Cohen obtained from The Elms when the Johnsons moved out; how Cohen became chief counsel for the IRS; visiting the LBJ Ranch; changes Cohen made to the chief counsel's office and accomplishments during his tenure; LBJ's interest in efficiency and hard work; LBJ's meetings with Cohen and other IRS staff members; LBJ's public versus private persona; LBJ's respect for Cohen's advice; LBJ's temper; LBJ's reputation for crudeness, using profanity, and mimicking people; Cohen's involvement in the 1964 tax cut; Mortimer Caplin's resignation as commissioner of IRS; how Cohen became commissioner of IRS; LBJ's response to criticism over the number of Jewish people holding government positions related to taxes; Bert Harding's work for IRS, then the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO); a questionnaire from Senator Edward Long regarding invasion of privacy and a resulting IRS investigation; instances of wiretapping by the IRS; Cohen's negotiations with Long regarding the investigations; hearings related to the investigations; Life magazine articles on Jimmy Hoffa; Operation Dry Up and other efforts to stop illicit liquor; Cohen's implementation of a rule that IRS employees could not testify without his permission; problems with the withholding tax; Cohen's work improving tax forms; technological advances at the IRS; Alfred Steinberg's Sam Johnson's Boy, including the Cummings case and other accusations of IRS vindictiveness; gifts between LBJ and Cohen's children.


Cohen, Sheldon S. (Sheldon Stanley), 1927-


LBJ Library Oral Histories

Collection Description:

Go to List of Holdings


Possibly copyright restricted: see deed at end of transcript for details


Sheldon Cohen


David G. McComb

Specific Item Type:

Oral history









Time Period:

Presidential (Nov. 22, 1963-Jan. 20, 1969)