What Trump’s JFK theories reveal about the candidate

TrumpLee Harvey Oswald alone and unaided killed President Kennedy, according to Donald Trump–but Ted Cruz’s dad helped him do it.

In other words, Trump has no fixed opinion on who killed the 35th president of the United States. He is conspiratorial but he is not a conspiracy theorist. He says whatever serves his purposes in the moment, which is not to say his views are unimportant.

Trump’s statements about JFK’s assassination are revealing about how he conceives of American history and they have public policy implications. If elected President Trump will face a decision about still-secret JFK records in his first year in office. Will he let the CIA keep on hiding JFK records or not?

What would President Trump do? His JFK comments provide some clues.

To the Daily Caller, a Washington Web site seeking to reassure themselves and others about Trump’s hard-right orientation,Trump says “Oswald acted alone,” which is a way of saying “Don’t worry, I don’t subscribe to left-wing conspiracy theories.”

But, back on the campaign trail, Trump needed to demonize his closest rival, so he jettisoned his lone gunman theory and appealed to the conspiracy-minded with an improvised JFK “theory” about accused assassin Lee Oswald and the father of Senator Ted Cruz that has been universally and definitively debunked.

Roger Stone’s influence

Roger Stone
Former Trump adviser Roger Stone

This is a political style that Trump picked up from Roger Stone, his once and future adviser, who had worked in Republican politics for 40 years. Stone was one of Trump’s original advisers but he quit the campaign  last summer (or maybe it was the other way around.) In Cleveland, Stone is talking like he still has access to the candidate.

For Trump, as for Stone, charges of conspiracy are a standard-issue weapon in the war on liberals and liberalism. In an interview with JFK Facts, Stone explicated his “LBJ killed JFK” theory. He said:

Yes, I believe that LBJ spearheaded a conspiracy funded by Texas Oil and assisted by elements of the CIA and the Mob. Yes, I think LBJ’s unique relationships with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, defense contractors, Texas Oil, and organized crime allowed him to spearhead a conspiracy. All had a stake in Kennedy’s death.

As history, Stone’s conspiracy theory is dubious at best. As politics, it is an efficient way way to impugn the legacy of LBJ. The president who gave us the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, and Medicare –all of which the right resists 50 years later–was a corrupt monster. So, Stone’s insinuation suggests, the American liberal agenda is corrupt and monstrous. Such caricatures are Stone’s stock in trade.

But while Trump relishes Stone’s reactionary politics and bare-knuckle tactics, he isn’t interested in the details. Trump’s message is  “Make America Great Again,” meaning roughly “make America what it was before civil rights, feminism, and mass immigration shuffled the cultural hierarchy,” i.e sometime before 1968. In the Trumpian cosmos, America was Great in 1963. So Stone’s implicit message that America was rotten to the core in 1963 sits poorly with Trump’s nostalgic politics.

As Stone told Politico, his longtime friend isn’t interested in information or the way it corroborates reality.

“When you know somebody that long, you get an understanding about how to affect their thinking without being, you know, without being insulting or overstepping a line,” he said. . “Nobody puts words in Donald’s mouth. He is his own conceptualizer.”

Trump does not conceptualize “JFK” as a historical event or even as an instance of conspiracy. Rather he understands “JFK” and “November 22 1963” as concepts that evoke a radical suspicion of the Washington government in the American audience. These concepts can be manipulated, conspiratorially or anti-conspiratorially, to advance his candidacy. Facts or coherence or historical veracity are irrelevant to his purposes.

Yet if he is elected, President Trump will have to decide whether or not to enforce the mass JFK declassification scheduled for October 2017.  Hillary Clinton has already indicated she favors a “national security” loophole. Trump’s position will likely be whatever suits his political needs in the moment.


11 thoughts on “What Trump’s JFK theories reveal about the candidate”

  1. I have yet to see or hear the clip when Donald Trump said Cruz’s father killed JFK. He was asked if he heard that Cruz was in a picture with Oswald, and answered, “That’s interesting.” This, while Hillary was being asked how it felt to be a grandmother.

    1. Ramon F Herrera

      Hi Marie. Long time no see …

      There were actually 2 separate events. Back in May, Trump and Cruz were the only survivors of the bloody primary.

      Fast Forward to minute 5’30”

      In one of the audio he says “It is horrible” and on the other “It is ridiculous”.

      Then, during the nomination last week, Ted Cruz was given a prime time speaking spot. It was expected that in consideration, he would be gracious and endorse Trump. What happened was the opposite, with the Texas Senator issuing damning epithets against the Republican candidate.

      Cruz: “I did it because he insulted my wife”.

      Trump retaliated by bringing back the Oswald issue:


      Trump’s style includes insinuations. For example, after the Orlando tragedy he said about Obama “There is something going on there”. The New York Times wrote:

      “Trump Insinuates the Obama Supports Terrorists”.

      The following day the NYT was fired from the Trump events. They joined Politico and a very long list.

    2. Ramon F Herrera

      “I have yet to see or hear the clip when Donald Trump said Cruz’s father killed JFK.”


      You will never hear something like that from him or his cohorts. After decades of being shamed, the Far Right has developed a hypocritical style. See old copy+paste material below.


      Let’s say that Sarah Palin hires me as an image consultant and I tell her “Our research clearly indicates that when you say ‘Lamestream Media’, far right types (Anti-Semites, KKK, Neo-Nazis, etc.) always make the association of media ownership and control by Jews. This is worrisome, Sarah: you are supposed to be a strong supporter of Israel”.

      Note: It matters NOT whether my “research” is true!!

      What do you think she will do?

      Furthermore: Why haven’t her advisers told her about this glaringly OBVIOUS fact?

      Big Question: Is Mrs. Palin saying “Lamestream Media” by design or by accident???

      Another example: The “Restoring Honor Rally” took place at the location AND date of the historic Martin Luther King speech. Glenn Beck innocently said: “I didn’t even realize the date”.

      Black leaders said that this was a slap in the face of African Americans and disrespect to the memory of MLK.

      Is this a case of incompetence (by ALL the Plain and Beck staff)? or glaring hypocrisy, a wink to the racists in the back row?

      Such is the insidious nature of Far Right strategy. They always leave room for plausible deniability.

      1. Ramon F Herrera

        Incidentally: See official definition of “Far Right” below:

        “The US Department of Homeland Security defines RIGHT-wing extremism as hate groups who target racial, ethnic or religious minorities. The phrase is also used to describe support for ethnic nationalism. (ie: anti-immigrants)”


        Note: The above definition was written by the GWB administration.

  2. I have zero confidence Trump (or Hillary for that matter) will stand up for the truth and preclude the “national security” option the CIA, Secret Service and FBI have clung to for 53 years to hold these files hostage.

    Jeff you are doing incredible work as is Rex Bradford.

    my hope is that more hard information is found like the AF1 tapes or someone comes forward (not likely I know) and gives us the truth so this doesn’t remain “a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an emigma”.

    On a side note (and since I’m new to this site and am once again reading more about JFK and RFK after taking 15 years off from reading most of the books…) I have to ask… Does anyone feel the Roscoe White story was torpedoed all too quickly? I just re-read the alleged diary entries and cryptic notes about a national security threat in Dallas and it has me wanting to review the nix and muchmore films again.

  3. I think that Mr. Morley’s interpretation of Roger Stone’s motives is entirely correct. Everything Roger Stone says and does, however ridiculous and random it might sound, is meant to smear and demean the people he wishes to smear and demean. It’s telling that he and his fellow right-wing drones still feel the need to try to destroy and undermine the last great liberal president in American history. (They’ve given up on trying to tarnish JFK, who remains widely beloved despite an ocean of books trying to portray him as a Mob-connected, drug-addicted fraud; now they’ve decided to pretend that JFK was actually a “conservative” all along.)

    The irony, of course, is that the people Stone admires and wants to help win political power are even worse. One of his books purports to unveil the truth about what he calls “the Bush crime family,” as if Stone hadn’t worked for Richard Nixon, the biggest crook to ever sit in the Oval Office.

  4. I’m very grateful for your work, Jeff.

    I grew up 2nd generation Irish Catholic and JFK was a part of the religion.

    I’m not going to touch the Cruz matter as I haven’t read enough to know what I think about it. It was probably a cheap political shot, but I want to read more before I decide I know what I think.

    As for Trump on Oswald acting alone — Bobby Kennedy publicly supported the findings of the Warren Commission but if you think that’s how he really felt, I have a bridge to sell you. Sometimes politicians have to feign an opinion publicly that they don’t really hold. Who knows what Trump truly thinks about 11/22/63?


    I’m troubled by the Bobby Baker incident when it comes to LBJ. I’m not saying I agree with Stone’s theory at all, but I think LBJ was very corrupt and had motivation at minimum to keep his mouth shut.


  5. This struck me as a way of delegitimizing LBJ, the most successful domestic liberal president since FDR.

    Jeff, did you even read the passage that you quoted? Stone blames just about everybody for killing JFK, including mostly groups the left hates.

    You are right about LBJ being the most successful liberal president, but that has gotten him essentially nothing from the left-leaning buffs, who hate him about as much as they hate (say) J. Edgar Hoover.

    To claim Stone is using “conspiracy theory” against liberals is in fact at odds with the main contention of your post.

    It attributes to Stone some coherent, perceptible and understandable agenda (even if it’s one you don’t like).

    In reality Stone, like Trump, seems to say whatever pops into his head at any given time.

    P.S. I debated him on a Wisconsin radio show:


    Go to the 1:00 (one hour) mark.

    Stone came across as just the standard conspiracist.

    1. In most all crimes that are best characterized by the shifts in history that would otherwise not occur, it is most important to follow the money as part of understanding what happened. These debates are theater. The people putting on these debates are actors.

      Yes, Stone is an absolute nutcase, but these two debating each other is like Trump debating himself in the mirror with little to distinguish the man and his reflection other than which side of the Hegelian dialectic each is fulfilling. Stone is a well established gatekeeper. To me, no one benefitted more from the 1963 coup de etat more than Dulles’ and NIXON‘s friends. LBJ was just the right statist gangster playing politician at the right time to assist the criminal organization issuing orders to its UNSC after it rid itself of Hammarskjöld. JFK was against the level of collectivism that these parties represented and acted with taxpayer money to proliferate to the detriment of the very dollar they issued at will.

      There is little documentation to prove Nixon’s complicity in the operations that participated in the ongoing usurpation and crash course consumption of JFK’s administration via the desirable-to-UNSC Continuity of Government actions. When one actually does research and follow the money, the outlays of money flowing towards the banksters, the MIC, and the no-bid postwar reconstructionists of the downstream “Prospect for America” clique just about bely nearly everything Stone and Warren Report supporters alike claim in defense of and in prosecution of LBJ.

      Because livestream is trash (to me), here is another source:


      It is exponentially pathetic to continue hearing people begging for consensus by saying “just go to my website”, as irresponsibly tendentious as it is.

    2. Interesting our you spin this. I heard a debate of roger stone with someone on the JFK assasination and I thought Stones research was dead on and the person he debated was always trying to ignore any pertinent facts. I would have to urge anyone who reads this to only be concerned about the TRUTH and leave any political lean out of the mix. As far as Clinton or Trump getting to the truth ( my money’s is unfortunately on Trump). Postponing the release of these records based on national security is at this point in our history ludicrous and very suspicious.

  6. Clare Elizabeth

    RFK, Jr. has written and is currently promoting a book that “absolves” his cousin, Michael Skakel, in the murder of Martha Moxley in 1975. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new career for him and he will apply his talents and use his influence to shed more light on the murder of his uncle and father. He is a strong supporter of Hillary and perhaps he will persuade her to release the files in 2017.

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