Trump Blames CIA for His Empty Promises on JFK Files

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Former President Donald Trump claimed on the All In podcast this week that the CIA prevented him from releasing files connected with the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

When pressed on the issue, Trump told the podcast hosts, “I actually did do it. I released a lot.” He claimed that the CIA delayed his requests, telling him they needed “more time.”

In 2017, Trump made waves by publicly promising to release “ALL JFK files other than the names and addresses of any mentioned person who is still living.” He never lived up to that promise.

A year later, in April, Trump punted the ball on releasing the assassination documents in accordance with the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, a 1992 law that mandates all records related to Kennedy’s assassination be released 25 years after the signing of the law. Trump set a new release date for Oct. 26, 2021, a move that JFK assassination researcher Jefferson Morley told the Washington Post was non-compliant with the 1992 JFK records law, as the Trump administration did not explain why the documents were being withheld.

“The point is that the CIA wants to keep this secret forever. It’s a very clear statement of intent,” Morley said.

Morley told The Daily Beast that, according to the JFK records act, the president does not need to heed the CIA’s recommendations on releasing the records.

“Trump didn’t need to take the recommendation of the CIA,” Morley said. “The CIA certainly has the right to ask for postponement of material, but the White House doesn’t have to accept that.”

Morley also called Trump’s handling of the release of the JFK records “transactional.”

“He had no interest in resolving this issue,” Morley said. “When [Mike] Pompeo asked him, ‘Don’t release this stuff, because the CIA doesn’t want it out,’ he said, ‘Fine.’”

Morley added that both President Joe Biden and Trump tend to obey the directives of the CIA, despite the fact that the CIA has no statutory authority over them. Last summer, Biden signed an executive order that delegated the scheduling for the release of records to the CIA and NSA, according to Morley.

“Biden kinda just handed [it] off, and that’s because, you know, it’s like, he doesn’t want to piss off the CIA… he’s got a couple of wars going,” he said.

When Trump took office, of the 319,000 documents related to the JFK assassination, Morley said, about 75,000 documents still contained redaction and of that tranche, Trump released 54,436. Biden has released around 16,000 of the remaining documents with around 3,600 still containing redactions, according to Morley.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.