PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP CLASHES WITH SPY AGENCIES OVER JFK FILES
WASHINGTON: It was a showdown 25 years in the making.
With the world itching to finally get a look at classified Kennedy assassination files and the deadline for release just hours away, intelligence officials were still angling for a way to keep their secrets.
United States President Donald Trump, the one man able to block the release, did not appreciate their persistence. He did not intend to make this easy.
Like much else surrounding investigations of the 1963 killing of President John F Kennedy, last week’s release of 2800 records from the JFK files was anything but smooth.
It came together only at the last minute, with White House lawyers still fielding late-arriving requests for additional redactions in the morning and an irritated Trump continuing to resist signing off on the request, according to an account by two White House officials.
The tale of the final hours before the congressionally-mandated 25-year release deadline adds a new chapter to the story of Mr Trump’s troubled relationship with his spy agencies.
Under a 1992 law, all of the records related to the assassination were to be made public unless explicitly withheld by the president.
Just before the release, Mr Trump wrote in a memorandum he had ‘‘no choice’’ but to agree to requests from the CIA and FBI to keep thousands of documents secret because of the possibility releasing the information could still harm national security.
According to White House officials, Mr Trump accepted some of the records contained references to sensitive sources and methods used by the intelligence community and law enforcement and that declassification could harm American foreign policy interests.
But after having the scope of the redactions presented to him, Mr Trump told aides he did not believe them to be in the spirit of the law.
‘‘After strict consultation with General Kelly, the CIA and other agencies, I will be releasing all JFK files other than the names and addresses of any mentioned person who is still living,’’ Trump wrote.
‘‘I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest.’’
Historic: An overhead view of President John F Kennedy’s car in Dallas motorcade on November 22, 1963, from the Warren Commission.