Nov 28 1963: LBJ backs Commission to investigate the assassination

Three days earlier, President Johnson had resisted the idea of a Presidential Commission inquiry into President Kennedy’s assassination, telling Joe Alsop “we don’t send in a bunch of carpetbaggers” and “the President must not inject himself into, ah, local killings.” To which Alsop had replied “I agree with that, but in this case it does happen to be the killing of the President.”

After the death of Oswald, Johnson and aides were determined to convince the public that the suspected assassin had acted alone but could not decide how.  By the 28th Johnson had swung behind the idea of a commission, although  there is a little documentation as to why he changed his mind. In a call with Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, LBJ described who might serve on such a commission:  “And if we could have two Congressmen and two Senators, and maybe a Justice of the Supreme Court…”

Eastland was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where one of two proposed congressional inquiries into the assassination was on the verge of forming. But Eastland told Johnson “now if you want it dropped, we’ll drop it.”

As in a few other calls this week, Johnson made oblique references to the specter of war that the allegations of a Communist conspiracy had raised. “This is a very explosive thing and it could be a very dangerous thing for our country,” he said. Avoiding war was his priority. The next day would see Johnson at his most explicit in this regard, as he leaned on a reluctant Chief Justice Earl Warren to head the inquiry.

One comment

  1. Lyndon Johnson was vigorously opposed to any investigative commission – congressional or Warren Commission. LBJ wanted to use Texas to control the cover up with a Texas “Court of Inquiry.”

    The head of the American state has just been murdered and LBJ is telling Hoover, his longtime friend and neighbor of 19 years (1943-1961), stuff like: “Now we can’t be checking up on every shooting scrape in the country …” [LBJ, November 25th]

    http://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/lbjlib/phone_calls/Nov_1963/audio/LBJ-Hoover_11-25-63.htm

    Of course, that same head of the American state, John Kennedy, is someone who LBJ hated and who [JFK] was on the verge of politically executing and personally destroying Lyndon Johnson just 3 days before. LBJ had been obsessed with this fact all through 1962 and 1963; LBJ sure was not fretting over civil rights legislation in this time period.

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