President Trump said Saturday that he intends to allow the release of long-classified files on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy, a move that could shed light on a tragedy that has stirred conspiracy theories for decades.
The National Archives has until Oct. 26 to disclose the remaining thousands of never-seen government documents on the 1963 assignation, unless Trump changes course and tries to block their release.
“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long-blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.
However, to what additional information the president was referring was unclear. The CIA and FBI, whose records make up the bulk of the batch, won’t say whether they’ve appealed to the Trump administration to keep them under wraps.
“The American public deserves to know the facts, or at least they deserve to know what the government has kept hidden from them for all these years,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of a book about Kennedy, said in an email to The Associated Press.
It’s unlikely the documents contain any big revelations about Kennedy’s killing, said Judge John Tunheim, who was chairman of the independent agency in the 1990s that made public many assassination records and decided how long others could remain secret.
Sabato and other JFK scholars believe the trove of files may provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing.
During the trip, Oswald visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies.
His stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, much about the trip remains unknown.
Among the protected information up for release is details about the arrangements the U.S. entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies said Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota.
Kennedy experts also hope to see the full report on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City from staffers of the House committee that investigated the assassination, said Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which publishes assassination records.