JFK Files: 7 Things to Know from Document Release
President Donald Trump on Thursday released a bulk of the remaining sealed documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, shielding only about 300 remaining files from the public as authorities review whether their release will affect national security.
The documents did not include any bombshell revelations, although they provided further insight into the events surrounding the Nov. 22, 1963 shooting death of Kennedy in Dallas.
Here are eight things to know from the latest batch of released documents:
1. British newspaper got tip about ‘big news’ ahead of assassination
An anonymous tipster warned a British newspaper reporter by phone that “big news” was coming and that the reporter should contact the American Embassy in London just 25 minutes before Kennedy was shot, according to an FBI memo dated Nov. 23, 1963.
The Cambridge News reporter, who informed police of the call after learning of Kennedy’s death, was not identified.
“The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London for some big news and then hung up,” said the memo, from FBI Deputy Director James Angleton to the bureau’s Director J. Edgar Hoover.
2. FBI was tipped off one day before Oswald was killed
An unidentified man tipped FBI agents off to a threat against Lee Harvey Oswald’s life one day before he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, Hoover said in a memo dated Nov. 24, 1963.
“There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead,” Hoover said in the opening line of the memo.
Hoover said authorities contacted Dallas police after receiving the call, from a calm-sounding man who claimed he was part of a committee organized to kill Oswald.
“We at once notified the Chief of Police and he assured us Oswald would be given sufficient protection,” Hoover said in the memo. “This morning we called the Chief of Police again warning of the possibility of some effort against Oswald, and he again assured us adequate protection would be given. However, this was not done.”
3. Hoover worried that Oswald’s death would leave doubts about his guilt
In the same memo, Hoover worried that Oswald’s abrupt death would leave lingering questions over his guilt.
“The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. (Deputy Attorney General Nicholas) Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin,” Hoover wrote.
He discussed the need to find and share concrete evidence against Oswald while also protecting America’s international relations, which could have been damaged by the various threads of the investigation.
4. Group claimed to have evidence that President Lyndon B. Johnson was in the KKK
In a memo dated April 17, 1964, an FBI official wrote about a claim that President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was sworn in after Kennedy’s assassination, had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
A confidential informant claimed to have contacted a man who said that he had “documented proof that President Johnson was formerly a member of the Klan in Texas during the early days of his political career.”
The proof was not provided.
5. Cuban ambassador reacted to assassination news with ‘happy delight’
In a document dated Nov. 27, 1963, CIA officials wrote that the Cuban ambassador to Canada and his staff reacted with “happy delight” when they learned of Kennedy’s assassination.
They were ordered by higher-ups in Havana to keep a somber appearance in public.
“When it was announced in Canada that an official requiem high mass would be held (the ambassador) decided that on basis his instructions from Havana he would have to attend although he made it clear that he would not do so if he had any personal choice in the matter,” the CIA document said.
6. Oswald met with a KGB officer connected to sabotage, assassination unit
In a CIA memo dated Nov. 23, 1963, officials wrote about a phone call intercepted a month earlier in Mexico City from Oswald to the Soviet Embassy. According to investigators, Oswald spoke in “broken Russian” and inquired about a “telegram to Washington.”
Officials determined that the call was likely related to getting “Soviet support for a U.S. passport or visa matter.”
During the call, investigators learned Oswald met with Valeriy Vladimirovich Kostikov, the Soviet consul and a known KGB officer, on Sept. 28, 1963.
Kostikov was described as “a case officer in an operation which is evidently sponsored by the KGB’s 13th Department (responsible for sabotage and assassination).”
7. Soviet officials believed Kennedy death was part of ‘ultraright’ conspiracy
Communist Party and Soviet Union officials believed that Kennedy’s vice president was involved in his assassination, according to an FBI report dated Dec. 2, 1966.
In September 1965, a source told the FBI that KGB officials in Moscow ordered agents to “develop all possible information concerning President Lyndon B. Johnson’s character, background, personal friends, family, and from which quarters he derives is support in his position as President of the United States.”
“Our source added that in the instructions from Moscow, it was indicated that ‘now’ the KGB was in possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy,” the report said.
Authorities didn’t elaborate on what the purported data contained.