WASHINGTON, October 22, 2017 — President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he intends to permit the release of never-before-seen government files related to the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November, 1963. These documents were ordered to be classified and sealed by JFK’s successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson and have never been seen by the general public.
Congress declared in 1992 that all documents related to the Kennedy assassination could be released within 25 years of that date unless the president at that time can prove that doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations.
Most of the documents set to be declassified belong to the CIA and FBI. Both agencies and others have reportedly urged the president to keep the files under wraps. The documents still under seal include more than 3,000 files. They are scheduled to be made public on October 26, 2017, and are likely to be made available online. The files that were withheld in full were those the Assassination Records Review Board deemed “not believed relevant.”
Following Trump’s announcement, the White House released a statement to reporters:
“The President believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise.”
Republicans have urged Trump to allow the full release of the documents. Many JFK scholars believe the trove of files may provide insight into a trip Oswald made to Mexico weeks before the assassination. President Trump’s former top political adviser, Roger Stone later wrote a book centering on a claim that Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy’s vice president at the time, was involved in Kennedy’s assassination.
Individuals both inside and outside the Federal government doubt the soon-to-be-released documents contain any startling new revelations. Conspiracy theories continue to swirl around the JFK’s death and who else was behind it beside the actual assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. The forthcoming document dump is not expected to put an end to those theories, however, and may even inspire some new ones.
In July, the National Archives published online more than 440 never-before-seen JFK assassination documents and thousands of others that had been released previously with redactions. Many pundits and observers believe that some of the files to be released this week will still have portions redacted, including IRS records of Jack Ruby. Others purportedly in the know believe an unknown number of key files were destroyed before the 1992 law was enacted.
The final decision as to whether any information will be redacted in the upcoming document release is apparently up to President Trump. Some sources cite continuing pressure on the President to allow at least some material to be redacted, claiming that certain information may unnecessarily reveal certain methods used by U.S. intelligence agencies to obtain information.