President Donald Trump will not release the full tranche of records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, instead following the recommendations of his national security agencies that some of those records be redacted, White House officials said.
The National Archives will release 2,800 records on Thursday, with the remaining documents remaining secret for the time being.
Senior administration officials declined to discuss the contents of the files that will be released, including whether they contain evidence of a conspiracy surrounding Kennedy's death.
However, a local JFK assassination expert doesn’t think there will be anything earth shattering in the remaining files.
“Even conspiracy people are saying, don’t expect a smoking gun,” John McAdams said.
McAdams taught a JFK assassination class at Marquette for more than 20 years. He says, while people are excited for the file dump, don’t hold your breath.
“Most of the documents we know have relevance have long since been released,” McAdams said. “We’re down to the stuff that’s probably kind of marginal.”
McAdams says the documents likely won’t shed any light about what happened that day. He believes there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that points to Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman.
But he says the information could make the CIA look bad in how it handled Oswald before the assassination.
“There is one account that Oswald, in the Cuban Embassy in Mexico City, was frustrated because the Cubans would not let him in Cuba,” McAdams said. “He wanted to get into Cuba to join Castro’s revolution so he said; I guess I’ll have to kill Kennedy or something like that. If Oswald really did threaten to kill Kennedy and the CIA had that information, it would be fairly explosive.”
Trump will issue a memo to heads of intelligence agencies saying "the American public expects and deserves its government to produce as much access as possible to the John F. Kennedy assassination records."
"I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted" on the records, the memo will say.|
It’s a mystery 54 years in the making. A recent poll says 60 percent of Americans believe some sort of conspiracy when it comes to Kennedy’s death. There are dozens of theories on the incident. The big question though is why?
“We want big events to have big causes,” McAdams said. “World War II, Hitler and the Nazis. That’s big enough and nasty enough that it makes sense. On the other hand, with the JFK assassination, we have John Kennedy, leader of the free world and this nobody. This useless fellow who didn’t amount to anything just had a gun, a cheap $20 war surplus gun and takes out the leader of the free world. It doesn’t match.”
The President will also note that law enforcement and foreign affairs agencies have requested that certain records remain redacted. "I have no choice" but to keep those records under wraps, the memo will say.
In his memo, Trump will order the intelligence agencies to re-review their reasons for keeping the records redacted, and to report back in 180 days.
Trump, for his part, teased the release of the documents on Wednesday, but did not make clear whether he planned on allowing the full release. In a Saturday tweet, Trump said he would allow the release of the documents "subject to the release of further information."
Trump is permitted block the release of certain documents if he finds "an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or conduct of foreign relations" and if "the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure," according to the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.