Trump delays release of some Kennedy files pending review
The Trump administration is blocking the release of some records compiled during the investigation into the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy, which were set to be released on Thursday.
President Trump said in a memo he “has no choice” but to withhold the information as requested by government agencies, citing national security concerns. Officials said the concerns originated mostly from the FBI and CIA.
“I have no choice today but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our Nation’s security,” Trump said in the memo to department and agency heads released by the White House.
The administration said that 2,800 of the 3,100 still-unreleased government records would be disclosed Thursday. Officials said the remaining records would be released after a six-month review period, though with some redactions.
“The remaining records will be released with agency-proposed redactions on a rolling basis in the coming weeks,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
“The President has demanded unprecedented transparency from the agencies and directed them to minimize redactions without delay. The National Archives will therefore release more records, with redactions only in the rarest of circumstances, by the deadline of April 26, 2018,” she added.
The records released Thursday evening were set to be available on the National Archive’s website.
Speculation swirled for weeks over whether Trump would release the highly anticipated documents. The government has previously released 30,000 documents, but with redactions. Trump indicated Thursday that no redacted records would be released at this time.
Thursday marked the federal government’s deadline to release the 3,100 unseen files, a deadline that was set by Congress in 1992 under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act. The documents have been held in the National Archives, and the majority are already public.
Trump announced last week that he’d allow the files to be released, tweeting “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.”
The president teased the files’ release in a tweet on Wednesday.
“The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow. So interesting!” he said.
While the files were set to be released on Thursday, NBC News reported late in the day that the government was in danger of missing the deadline, citing a memo that said government agencies such as the CIA and the State Department had specified material they wanted to keep behind closed doors, and that the material had not made it to the president’s desk.
There is reportedly anxiety in the government over the impact the document dump could have on U.S. intelligence programs.
Politico Magazine reported last week that some of the files could contain highly sensitive information that some intelligence officials and agencies may not want released.
A White House official said last week that the documents would be released “unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” and that Trump wanted the documents released “in the interests of full transparency.”
Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy in 1963 while the president was in a motorcade in Dallas.
The assassination has been the subject of conspiracy theories for more than 50 years.
Updated 7:30 p.m.