What would President Trump do about JFK records?

Once again Donald Trump is frazzling the custodians of civil discourse. His use of an unfounded JFK conspiracy theory to jab now-defeated rival Ted Cruz is much lamented on the internet. Trump’s “pants are on fire.” Trump “refuses to apologize.” Trump is peddling “tabloid garbage.”

Which is all pretty much true. As JFK Facts said first–and a good USA Today story confirms–there is no factual or historical basis for the claim Trump is repeating.

Natatlie Portman as Jackie Kennedy
Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy

But dismissing JFK’s assassination as a trivial subject is one mistake that Donald Trump does not make. His gambit is an old story in American culture. With his intuitive media personality, Trump is drawn, moth-like, to an eternal flame of American culture: the JFK story.

Never do our most skillful culture makers let this flame be extinguished. Stephen King gives us 11.22.63. Natalie Portman gives us “Jackie.”  Donald Trump gives us “Rafael Cruz Linked to JFK Assassination.”

The JFK reflections of the presumptive Republican nominee, while erroneous, are not unprecedented, nor unimportant.

What Presidents Said

At least five previous inhabitants of the Oval Office have mused about the assassination of the 35th president.

  • The assassination of JFK prompted former president One  Harry Truman to call for the abolition of the CIA.
  • Publicly, President Lyndon Johnson endorsed the official theory that a “lone gunman” had killed his predecessor. Privately, LBJ “never believed” Oswald acted alone.
  • Richard Nixon obsessed about “the Bay of Pigs thing,” which aides thought might be a coded reference to JFK’s death. But in a tense 1971 meeting, Nixon told CIA director Richard Helms he didn’t care “Who shot John.”
  • Gerald Ford, as a member of the Warren Commission, edited the description of JFK’s back wound in the commission’s final report to bolster the so-called “single bullet theory more than the evidence warranted
  • Bill Clinton, campaigning for president in 1992, said he believed JFK was killed by a conspiracy. When he moved into the White House, he changed his mind.

The issue facing the next president–and those who will vote for him or her– is not “Who killed JFK?”

The issue in 2016 is “Who will kill JFK secrecy?”

Warren Commission
The members of the Warren Commission issued their report in September 1964

The Law

Within a year of taking the oath of office President Trump (or President Clinton) will have to make some decisions about a huge trove ancient U.S. government records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

The issue will come to a head as October 25, 2017 approaches. That is the date that the 1992 JFK Records Act requires the government to release all of its records related to JFK assassination.

Thanks to WhoWhatWhy, Politico, JFK Facts and other news outlets, the people of the internet have obtained a lot of verifiable data about these records and what they might tell us about the JFK story.

The National Archives has identified some 3,600 JFK files, comprising perhaps 15,000 pages of material, that are supposed to be released in October 2017.

Of perhaps most interest to JFK assassination scholars are 1,100 CIA files, which have never been made public. Martha Murphy, a senior official at the National Archives in College Park Maryland says her staff is now processing this material in expectation it will be released in October 2017.

The Loophole

But the JFK Records has a loophole and the loophole is what makes the political issue of 2016.

The CIA (and other government agencies) have the right, under the JFK Records Act, to postpone release of these records past October 2017 for reasons of “national security.”

Given the CIA’s culture and track record, the safest presumption is that the agency will ask for select portions of this material to remain secret.

When Hillary Clinton was asked about JFK assassination records in the 2008 campaign, she advocated full disclosure but added a “national security” loophole that rendered her pledge all but meaningless. CIA officials have have used bogus claims of “national security” to hide material evidence related to JFK’s murder since the day the crime occurred. In other words, Clinton has promised to allow them to do the same in 2017 if they wish.

On the issue of JFK records, Trump’s position is unknown and his theories are irrelevant. What matters is the answer to the question:

What will President  Donald Trump do about the release of JFK records in his first term?

Tweeters: please use #jfk2017


29 thoughts on “What would President Trump do about JFK records?”

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  2. Ramon F Herrera

    “Bill Clinton, campaigning for president in 1992, said he believed JFK was killed by a conspiracy. When he moved into the White House, he changed his mind.”


    I was under the impression that a main principle of this site was that we deal with FACTS. Can somebody provide a source(s) for the “facts” above? The Clinton paragraph is the only one unsubstantiated.


    1. Ramon F Herrera

      My recollection is that as soon as the “JFK” movie was released (12/20/91), two eager candidates (Clinton and Gore) stated:

      • They believed that it was a conspiracy.

      • They would free all the files as soon as they were elected.

      The Republicans -in the White House and elsewhere- had to take immediate defensive actions, some damage control was in order.

      Just imagine the damning scenario of George HW Bush desperately attempting to hide the documents while two democrats (one of them leveraging his physical likeness to JFK and the fact that they shook hands) releasing them.

      The “It Was a Partisan Hit, One That Continues Until Today” hypothesis would have been corroborated.

      A few days before the 1992 election, Bush begrudgingly signed the law that had been approved by unanimity (a once in a blue moon circumstance), adding some caveats.



    2. It was actually Al Gore, not Bill Clinton, who said he thought it was a conspiracy.

      What Clinton said was: “My opinion is slightly less formed [than Gore’s]. I don’t know whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or not, but I know there are a lot of questions that the American people don’t have answers for.”


      By the 30th anniversary of JFK’s death in 1993, though, Clinton had changed his mind, telling reporters: “I’m satisfied with the finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.”


      As far as I can tell, Al Gore has not mentioned the issue since. It would be interesting to hear what he thinks now.

  3. Scott Fulmer

    As Vincent Salandria lucidly pointed out in 1998, the bitter specifics of the assassination are a false mystery regarding a whole host of state crimes. The question not to lose sight of is what the next president will do with the country. If he or she does release the JFK files, then what will the country do with ourselves when we know?

    1. Scott Fulmer,

      I agree with the thrust of your commentary. But there is also the guarantee of SPIN from the Public Relations Regime, as well as non-propagation of what is in those files, (were they to actually be released.)

      And as far as the general population, they have been spun into a manifestation of what Walter Lippmann referred to as “the bewildered herd” for going on a full century now.

      Frankly, we are as a nation now to the point that the “common man” cares naught for anything but ‘bread and circuses’. This is the manifestation of the decomposing empire, that the republic became as a result of WWII.

      We are in a turn of a larger cycle of history than most conceive of.
      This is “Rome just prior to the invasion of the barbarians” .. it has begun.

  4. Titular

    1. holding or constituting a purely formal position or title without any real authority.
    “the President is titular head of the ‘government’ of the USA/”
    synonyms: nominal, in title only, in name only, ceremonial, honorary, so-called; etc…

    1. That’s not what the law says. If the president wants to make himself more than a figurehead, the law gives him all the authority he needs to do that.

      And if the powers that be remove a president that tries to do that, won’t they discredit themselves and the whole political system in the process? Will they dare to do that?

      1. “And if the powers that be remove a president that tries to do that, won’t they discredit themselves and the whole political system in the process? Will they dare to do that?”~lysias

        “The law” lysias? The US has been constitutionally ultra vires since the Wilson administration.

        Read the Constitution Lysieas, can you console those words with the Panoptic Maximum Security State we live under today?

        1. That’s because presidents no longer try to obey and enforce the law. If one were to try, what excuse would anyone have to stop him?

          1. “If one were to try, what excuse would anyone have to stop him?”~lysias

            The same excuse used in the JFK assassination:
            “A lone nut got rid of him”. The template is always there for a modern remake.

            But they (the oligarchy) will not allow such a person to be placed in the Presidency; They choose the President. The whole vote and election game is a facade, a burlesque, an empty ritual to mollify the masses.

          2. The more often they use the lone nut ploy, the more obvious it will be that it is no more than a ploy. A system that loses the faith of too many of its people is ripe for revolution, like Brezhnev’s USSR, or pre-1789 France.

  5. If CIA is as guilty and as rogue as some believe, WITHHOLDING the JFK records might be the only leverage a sitting President has on CIA.

    1. If the CIA really was responsible in some ways for the JFK assassination and 9/11 (and who knows what else), wouldn’t revealing all that truth create a political fire storm throughout the public that would force the Congress to agree to the abolition of the CIA (as JFK wanted)?

      1. What if disclosure didn’t create a firestorm? What it the public passively went along with it like post 9/11 torture, assassinations, and war crimes?

        What if Congress is corrupt?

        What it CIA or the deep state figured it had nothing left to lose and decided to do whatever it wanted to without restraint?

        Isn’t martial law or civil war just as likely an outcome as meaningful political/legal reform?

        Should a President roll those dice? Just asking, I take no position on the matter.

  6. There is a strange, haunting contradiction between the way that the mainstream media treats the JFK story and the way that the U.S. government treats it.

    For mainstream media types, the JFK story is as goofy and unworthy of serious attention as Elvis or UFOs. For the CIA, and other government agencies, on the other hand, the JFK story is so serious that there are “perhaps 15,000 pages” of documents that must be kept out of the grasping hands of the public at all costs.

    For the media, the JFK story means having a good laugh at the expense of Oliver Stone and other “conspiracy theorists,” and perhaps a sneering reminder that JFK wasn’t much of a president anyway. For the government, the JFK story means bottling up 50-year-old secrets indefinitely, in the name of “national security.”

    If Oswald acted alone, if Ruby acted alone, if none of it meant anything except madness and random death, how does “national security” come into the picture?

    1. I fully agree with this. The CIA and US Governent are ACTING like they have something to hide. They will use “National Security” as the cloak to hide this thing. But what is it?

      I spevulate that the CIA is hiding a pre-existing relationship with LHO that started at Atsugi air base in Japan in the late 1950s with mischief over the U-2. I think the CIA desperately feels it will be discredited if this pre-existing relationship with LHO surfaces because of the risk that it will be blamed for LHO’s later horrible misdeed.

      1. If that’s all it is, who would care? If that’s all it is, a sane organization would have come clean long ago.

        Which is why we can be sure that that’s not all it is.

  7. Trump, in talking about nonexistent Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11, may have been making a veiled reference to the dancing Israelis, who did exist.

    Trump, in talking about Cruz’s father assisting Oswald, may have been making a veiled reference to Oswald not having shot JFK and/or CIA people working alongside Oswald in the months before the assassination.

    It should be noted that Trump’s words, as quoted in the Politico article, do not say that Oswald shot JFK:

    “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said Tuesday during a phone interview with Fox News. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”

    “I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump continued. “It’s horrible.”

  8. Ramon F Herrera

    We also know what Trump says about the case:

    “It was Lee Harvey Oswald, alone”.


    “LBJ being the nexus and the man, among many, with the greatest motive.”

    True, but LBJ lacked the means.

  9. He will do absolutely NOTHING!

    And, if he were the type to do anything different than all the past presidents, he would not have been allowed to win the nomination, let alone the presidency.

    Same thing for Hillary. In fact, same thing for the president after that, and the one after that…

    1. What better way to discredit his predecessors and political opponents and bring the national security state to heel than reveal the truth about things like the JFK assassination and 9/11? Would Congress dare oppose his program after that?

    2. David,

      I get the feeling that most commenting here actually think the political burlesque in DC is real, and that the Public Relations Regime produces anything more than pure propaganda.

      1. Indeed, Willy.

        To much dismay of believers, I usually give the example of the church, and more specifically the Vatican, to bring some perspective to the issue.

        Social and governing structures are built on a long chain of social engineering projects designed to steer the masses (the sheeple, if you will) in the desired direction, and make them believe in concepts that are manufactured expressly for this purpose.

        The Vatican might have key moments where they have had to admit the earth is neither flat, nor 6,000 years old. But it would be unthinkable for them to come out and admit that Jesus was a made up and/or hugely embellished character, and the bible is a creation of mankind. Nor they would appoint a pope who intends to spill the beans. For one, someone with those beliefs would never be allowed to climb up the ladder of church hierarchy, and will be discarded swiftly by hook or by crook. But, more importantly, when an institution is set out to control and manage billions of people and trillions of dollars, the veracity of the story they have built their house on becomes pretty much irrelevant. As the cliché goes, the ends justify the means…

        The American empire is no different. The mythical story (and it is a story, not history) it has built throughout the centuries has served the overlords, as well as their subjects quite well. The masses were fooled to believe they were in charge. And, for a long time, built upon fertile land and resources easily stolen from the natives, most Americans had no reason to doubt the efficacy of this new political system, and had no trouble believing it was the best system to live under, that their government and the American citizens acted solely to protect this amazing new system, to spread it to the entire backwards world and save the suffering from evil, and that their president was ultimately “The most powerful person on earth”, and therefore the tip of the pyramid.


      2. Even if we put aside any apparent sinister schemes, secret societies and CIA coups and assume good intentions on the part of the office of the presidency, the house, the intelligence agencies etc., to expect an (s)elected president to have the power to divulge historical truths is not unlike expecting the captain of a cruise ship to have the authority to sell the ship, or decide what the restaurants will be serving, or where the next port of call will be. The captain is there to make sure the ship is managed, that it reaches its destinations safely, manage the administration, and as is the case with the Titanic, take the fall when anything goes wrong, so that the sheeple will now vote a new person in, who shall be immune to any past wrongdoing and keep the illusion going.

        But, since we are on a JFK related site, one should also mention the added constraints of living in the crosshairs of a gun, and the dangers, not just for themselves but for they entire family, of being gunned down in broad daylight.

        In short, the cruise ship and ship’s owners are much bigger, much more powerful than some captain who is hired for 4 to 8 years as the designated driver, who makes appearances in the dining room every night so that the passengers feel they are in good hands as the ship sails towards its predetermined destination.

        1. Isn’t the present Pope an example of how a Pope can change things? Wasn’t John XXIII another example?

          Even if they really did kill John Paul I, that’s something you can only get away with a limited number of times before you give the show away.

          Same goes for political assassinations in the U.S. And if a president’s family were really attacked, that would antagonize an awful lot of people.

          The legitimacy of a political system can only withstand so many blows.

          1. How would you say the new pope is “changing” things? And what do you feel he is changing?

  10. Well, we know what Roger Stone, the longtime friend and closest political advisor to Trump thinks about the JFK assassination.

    LBJ being the nexus and the man, among many, with the greatest motive.

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