Trump to make JFK assassination documents public

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy riding through Dallas just moments before his assassination on Nov 22, 1963.
President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy riding through Dallas just moments before his assassination on Nov 22, 1963.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has decided to release a final batch of thousands of classified government documents related to the 1963 assassination of then President John F. Kennedy, he announced on Twitter.

"Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened," Mr Trump wrote last Saturday.

The release of the information being held at the National Archives - including several thousand never-before-seen documents - was mandated to occur by Oct 26 under a 1992 law that sought to quell conspiracy theories about the assassination.

Mr Trump has the power to block the release of the documents, and intelligence agencies have pressured him to do so for at least some of them. The agencies are concerned that information contained in some of the documents could damage national security interests.

The President did not make clear what he meant when he said in his tweet that the release of the documents would be "subject to the receipt of further information".

A White House official did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking clarification.

It is not known what revelations might be in the papers, though researchers and authors of books on Kennedy say they do not expect any bombshells that significantly alter the official narrative of the assassination - that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in Dallas - delivered in 1964 by the Warren Commission.

But the documents are likely to "help fuel a new generation of conspiracy theories", according to former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon, the author of a book about the commission, and Professor Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia, author of a book about Kennedy, who wrote a recent article about the documents in Politico.

Conspiracy theorists have long clamoured for what they hope will be evidence to prove that the government covered up the truth about the assassination.

Mr Trump is no stranger to conspiracy theories, including those involving the Kennedy assassination.

During the presidential campaign last year, he at one point alleged that the father of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, one of his Republican primary rivals, had been with Oswald shortly before Kennedy was killed.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Trump to make JFK assassination documents public'. Print Edition | Subscribe