This week, Donald Trump will oversee the release of the last batch of secret documents related to the Kennedy Assassination. But don’t let him and his cronies fool you – this was not a decision Trump made himself.
As part of the Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, the President is required by law to release the next set of documents related to the 22nd of November “no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of this Act.” This was signed into law by then-president George H.W. Bush on October 26th of that year, so when the documents are released tomorrow, it will happen because of a law that Trump had nothing to do with.
Trump, who believes that he has the “absolute right” to disclose classified intelligence, has done so before, but all he is doing here is exercising his right to not block the release of the records, which he could potentially do as part of the Act. There is little doubt that the documents will be released as planned, and they will fuel conspiracy theories about who really killed the 35th President for years to come.
Trump ally and Watergate ratf*cker Roger Stone has also tried to take credit for the decision. In a blog post called “Why I Urged Trump To Release JFK Assassination Files,” he re-iterates claims made in his 2013 book, The Man Who Killed Kennedy – The Case Against LBJ, which argues that then-Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the assassination of his superior, with the help of “the CIA, the mob, and Big Texas Oil.”
It’s no stretch to assume that Stone is using this article to sell more copies of his book, which Kirkus Reviews wrote, “lacks the cohesion that would make [its] argument believable…present[ing] conclusions as a given long before presenting…supporting evidence and jump[ing] from topic to topic and scene to scene with few transitions.”
Both Texas professor Sean Cunningham, and Robert A. Caro in his most recent book, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson Vol. 4, claim that they have found no evidence linking Johnson to the assassination, and I would trust both of them over a former Nixon operative with a tattoo of Tricky Dick on his back. More than anything, advocates of this theory forget that any Vice President in this situation would have been left out of the conspiracy, since no VP had any power in national affairs until Walter Mondale in 1977. But this is the kind of stuff you have to watch out for when the records are released tomorrow. People like Stone and Trump are going to take credit for things that they don’t deserve credit for, and advocate for theories that have no basis in reality, like the involvement of Lyndon Johnson, or Ted Cruz’s Dad.
The Pandora’s Box of the military-industrial complex, unleashed by the turbulent 1960s, makes for great storytelling in the downfall of our youngest elected President, and, having researched the assassination on and off for a long time (including working as a research assistant on a book about the films of Oliver Stone, it is fair to have a healthy skepticism when it comes to the Warren Report’s conclusion that Oswald acted alone. But the outlandish theories that will be fueled by tomorrow’s release must all be taken with a huge grain of salt – starting with the one that the man at the very top is responsible for the documents’ unsealing.
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Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.