On JFK docs, Trump jammed up over disclosure
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is caught in a push-pull on new details of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, jammed between students of the killing who want every scrap of information and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint. How that plays out should be known Thursday, when long-secret files are expected to be released.
On one side is an alliance of sleuths and scholars pushing for Trump to mind the 1992 law that requires the release this week of all 3,150 still-secret files on Kennedy’s killing on Nov. 22, 1963. For them, Trump has tweeted his intent to “allow the release of the long blocked and classified JFK FILES.”
But U.S. intelligence agencies are apparently citing the same law to urge him to keep some files out of public sight on national security grounds. For this group, Trump’s tweet offered a caveat that he intends to disclose the materials “subject to the receipt of further information.”
Students of the assassination say the CIA is pushing Trump to keep some of the materials secret. The spy agency isn’t denying that.
“Clearly there are documents, plural, files, plural, being appealed to him,” said University of Virginia historian Larry Sabato, an authority on Kennedy. Of the pressure on Trump, Sabato said, “I’m told reliably that it continues and that it has intensified.” The historian said documents generated in the 1990s that could contain the names of people who are still alive are of particular concern to those who want files held back.
Whatever details are released, they’re not expected to answer the major — and for many, still-lingering — question of whether anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald was involved in the assassination, including the government. The Warren Commission in 1964 reported that Oswald had been the lone gunman, and another congressional probe in 1979 found no evidence to support the theory that the CIA had been involved. But other interpretations, some more creative than others, have persisted.
For example, Roger Stone, a close Trump ally, advanced the unsubstantiated and widely disdained theory that Lyndon Johnson, who became president upon Kennedy’s death, was involved in it.
Stone is not sure key documents will see the light of day. He said that 440 documents related to the assassination, released by the National Archives in July, were so heavily redacted “on the basis of ‘national security’ that they are useless.” Stone said he’s lobbied Trump personally to release all remaining materials and believes the CIA is pushing the president to keep some secret.
Trump wasn’t tipping his hand Thursday. “The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow,” was all he said in a tweet. “So interesting!”
In 1992, Congress passed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, which directed the National Archives to collect all information related to the assassination and release it within 25 years, barring exceptions designated by the president. The deadline is Thursday.