President Trump announced via Twitter on Saturday morning that he will allow the release of thousands of classified documents about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy after years of delays.
“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted early Saturday.
Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
The unexpected move means the trove of never-before-seen documents are set to be released by the National Archives by Oct. 26.
Kennedy assassination experts have been speculating for weeks about whether Trump would disclose the documents.
Congress mandated in 1992 that all assassination documents be released within 25 years, by Oct. 26, unless the president asserts that doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations.
Over the years, the National Archives has released most of the documents, either in full or partially redacted.
The secret documents include more than 3,000 that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been released previously with redactions.
But one final batch remains, and only the president has the authority to extend the papers’ secrecy past the October deadline. In his tweet, Trump seemed to strongly imply he was going to release all the remaining documents. But he also hedged, suggesting that if, between now and Oct. 26, other government agencies made a strong case not to release the documents, he wouldn’t. Also, Trump was unclear about whether he would publish all of the documents in full or with some of them redacted.
In the days leading up to Trump’s tweet, a National Security Council official told The Washington Post that government agencies were urging the president not to release some of the documents. But Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone told conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of Infowars this week that he personally lobbied Trump to publish all of the documents.
Stone also told Jones that CIA Director Mike Pompeo “has been lobbying the president furiously not to release these documents.”
Though Kennedy assassination experts say they don’t think the last batch of papers contains any major bombshells, the president’s decision to release the documents could heighten the clarity around the assassination, which has fueled so many conspiracy theorists, including Trump himself.
In May 2016, while on the presidential campaign trail, Trump gave an interview to Fox News strongly accusing the father of his GOP primaries opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, of consorting with Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald right before the shooting.
JFK scholars believe the trove of files may provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing, during which he visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies. Oswald’s stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson, but much about the trip remains unknown.
Among the protected information up for release is details about the arrangements the U.S. entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies, said Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota.
Kennedy experts also hope to see the full report on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City from staffers of the House committee that investigated the assassination, said Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which publishes assassination records.
Do you believe Trump will release the remaining classified documents next week, and if so, will they be in full or partially redacted? Sound off in the comments below!