Trump releases some, but not all, JFK assassination records

2 years 8 months 1 week ago Friday, October 27 2017 Oct 27, 2017 Friday, October 27, 2017 5:45:00 AM CDT October 27, 2017 in News
Source: CNN
By: Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak, CNN
President Donald Trump said his administration will release classified government documents about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the deadline Congress set for making the files public. Getty Images.

(CNN) -- President Donald Trump on Thursday agreed not to release the full tranche of records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, acquiescing to last-minute requests from national security agencies that some of those records remain secret.

The US government released over 2,800 records Thursday night in an effort to comply with a 1992 law mandating the documents' release, but kept roughly 300 files classified out of concern for US national security, law enforcement and foreign relations. In a memo, Trump directed agencies that requested redactions to re-review their reasons for keeping the records secret within 180 days.

Still, Trump's decision to keep some documents secret is likely to keep conspiracy theories alive, fueling those who have long questioned official conclusions about the assassination and argued that the government has helped cover up the truth.

An initial review of some of the previously classified documents shed some light on the circumstances surrounding the Kennedy assassination.

One document revealed that the CIA intercepted a call Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald made to a KGB officer at the Russian Embassy in Mexico less than two months before killing Kennedy and that CIA agents speculated that he might be a KGB agent.

Oswald spoke to an "identified KGB officer," Russian Consul Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov "in broken Russian."

The report says "It is not usual for a KGB agent on a sensitive mission to have such overt contact with a Soviet Embassy," but adds "such contact in official installations may be caused by the agent's own carelessness."

The files also revealed new information about threats the FBI received against Oswald after he was arrested.

Hoover said on November 24, 1963, he "received a call in our Dallas office from a man talking in a calm voice and saying he was a member of a committee organized to kill Oswald," information the FBI shared with the Dallas chief of police.

"He again assured us adequate protection would be given. However, this was not done," Hoover said.

Oswald's killer Jack Ruby has maintained that he acted alone and it was not clear if Ruby had made the threat to the FBI's Dallas office.

What will remain secret?

Trump teased the release of the documents twice in the last week, but did not make clear whether he planned to allow the full release, though he noted in a Saturday tweet that he would allow the release of documents "subject to the release of further information."

In his letter, he says more information should eventually be released.

"The American public expects and deserves its government to produce as much access as possible to the John F. Kennedy assassination records," he wrote.

RELATED: President Trump's memo on the release of JFK documents

"I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted" on the records, the memo said. "At the same time, executive departments and agencies have proposed to me that certain information should continue to be redacted because of national security, law enforcement, and foreign affairs concerns. I have no choice -- today -- but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our nation's security."

Trump is permitted to block the release of certain documents if he finds "an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or conduct of foreign relations" and if "the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure," according to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

The deadline comes 25 years after the enactment of that law, which mandated the release of all government documents related to the Kennedy assassination in an attempt to quell conspiracy theories that have long swirled around the assassination.

But as deadline day came on Thursday, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies continued to make last-minute requests, resulting in a "messy" process in the final hours of the deadline, a senior US official told CNN.

The White House did not receive all of the requests until mid-day Thursday. That left Trump's aides scrambling to funnel all of the information to the President, who had only a few hours to decide how to proceed.

Administration officials said the sensitive information that will remain redacted for now relates to "intelligence, law enforcement and other details." That includes the identity of individuals involved in the investigation into the assassination, their roles as informants to law enforcement and information about foreign partner organizations that were involved in the investigation, a senior administration official said.

"The President heard those justifications from the agencies that requested the continuing postponement and he acknowledged that information ... requires protection," the official said.

Agencies requesting continued redaction of certain documents will need to submit a report to the US Archivist by March 26, 2018, explaining why those documents meet that standard, the White House said. Documents determined to not meet those standards will need to be released by April 26, 2018.

By setting a new deadline in 180 days, Trump's team is hoping to enforce greater accountability from the agencies to get them more thorough accounting for their reasoning on keeping some of the records redacted.

What are historians looking for

Historians who have closely studied the Kennedy assassination have said they do not expect the documents to reveal any bombshells or to contradict the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was solely responsible for killing Kennedy. Still, the files will give Americans a fuller picture of how the 35th US president was killed and the ensuing investigation into his assassination.

"There's going to be no smoking gun in there," Gerald Posner, the author of "Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK," told CNN's Michael Smerconish on Saturday. "Anybody who thinks this is going to turn the case on its head and suddenly show that there were three or four shooters at Dealey Plaza -- it's not the case."

"Oswald did it alone," Posner continued. "But what the files are doing and why they're important to come out is they fill in the history of the case and show us how the FBI and CIA repeatedly hid the evidence."

The CIA and FBI documents could also shed new light on Oswald's mysterious trip to Mexico City weeks before the assassination. The files could also reveal new details about US involvement in attempts to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro, notably the CIA's alleged ties to the mob as part of that effort.

Trump has been encouraged allow the full release of the files by several Republican figures in the lead-up to the document dump deadline.

"No reason 2 keep hidden anymore," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted earlier this month. "Time 2 let American ppl + historians draw own conclusions."

The President's longtime political adviser Roger Stone, an avid JFK assassination conspiracy theorist, also privately urged Trump to allow the full release of the documents.

Stone Thursday night said Trump's decision "has the inadvertent effect of fueling suspicion and skepticism."

"If the documents aren't embarrassing, then why withhold them?" Stone told CNN. "The issue is it shows the treachery of the Central Intelligence Agency who recruited (Lee Harvey Oswald), who trained him and who placed him."

More News

Grid
List
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A body found along a Callaway county roadway Thursday is under investigation as a homicide. The... More >>
6 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 7:36:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
BOONE COUNTY- Businesses outside the city limits of Columbia are now having to decide what to do about the mask... More >>
7 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 6:33:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - The COVID-19 pandemic changed a lot about how we live, and unemployment benefits weren't left out. Unemployment... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 5:45:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY – As cases are beginning to spike, some counties are struggling to keep up with the demand for... More >>
8 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 5:38:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
MOBERLY - The city has acquired what was formerly the Moberly Junior High School, and now is working to figure... More >>
11 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 2:42:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia Parks & Recreation will host a public input meeting tonight to discuss plans for a new trail... More >>
11 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 2:31:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA - People have been busy buying masks to prepare for the mask ordinance taking effect Friday, and businesses are... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 1:51:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
MCDONALD COUNTY - An Amber Alert has been issued in McDonald County. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said 8-year-old... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 1:14:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The final amount of insurance claims reported after the May 2019 tornadoes has amounted to nearly $190... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 1:06:00 PM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
BRANSON - When Kanakuk Kamps, a prominent network of Christian camps in Missouri, opened their five overnight camps on May... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 11:24:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
As COVID-19 continues to spread, KOMU 8 will continue to update you about impacts in the community. You can... More >>
15 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 10:56:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday kept a hold on President Donald Trump’s financial records that Congress has... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 9:45:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Police are investigating after three people were shot at a popular downtown St. Louis outdoor attraction.... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 9:20:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police in Kansas City are investigating the death of a woman they say was standing... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 9:19:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
COLUMBIA- MU Health Care is set to open another drive through testing site located at Mizzou North. Staff at... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 8:47:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- Just before the lockdown began, London-based writer Valentina Valentini made the choice of a lifetime: She agreed to... More >>
18 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 8:18:25 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
COLUMBIA – Thursday is the last full day Columbia residents will be able to go out in public without a... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 7:00:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
(CNN) -- The short-form video app TikTok has quickly become a key part of popular culture in the US, serving... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, July 09 2020 Jul 9, 2020 Thursday, July 09, 2020 6:17:00 AM CDT July 09, 2020 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 74°
3am 72°
4am 71°
5am 70°
6am 69°