Donald Trump has announced he intends to allow the release of the “long blocked and classified” files on the John F Kennedy (JFK) assassination.
The announcement, made against the advice of the National Security Council, has prompted claims the President is seeking to distract the public from a series of negative stories.
The declaration was made on Twitter, with the President saying: “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.”
The decision was met with a mixed response.
“This is enough to distract from Trump’s lies, investigations and incompetence,” said sociologist Dr DaShanne Stokes. “Of course Trump will allow it.”
Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, said the release “will prove I was NOT involved, ending rumours and speculation. I was in the third grade.”
But political scientist Larry Sabato said: “Thank you. This is the correct decision. Please do not allow exceptions for any agency of government. JFK files have been hidden too long.”
Prof Sabato, author of a book on the Kennedy assassination, has long campaigned for the documents to be released.
It is hoped the publication of the 3,000 files could provide new insight into a trip to Mexico taken by alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald just prior to the shooting.
Security officials reportedly fear some documents compiled in the 1990s could contain information on more recent intelligence operations.
Trump’s language suggested the move could still be blocked but the public announcement has heightened anticipation of releasing the files.
The Kennedy assassination documents are due to be released by the National Archives on 26 October but it was reported Trump would not allow them to be made public.
The President is the only person in government with the authority to block the documents’ publication.
The 1963 killing of Kennedy shocked the world and has long been shrouded in controversy and conspiracy theories – many people believe there was a second gunman.
Oswald was shot dead by gunman Jack Ruby before he could be tried.
During last year’s election campaign, Mr Trump used a conspiracy theory about the assassination to attack his rival, Ted Cruz.
Referencing a story run by National Enquirer, which linked Mr Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, and Oswald, Mr Trump told Fox News: “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot.
“I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous... What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.“
“I mean, what was he doing – what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
Mr Cruz immediately dismissed the claim as “garbage”.
Experts believe that even the full publication of the documents is unlikely to quell the extensive conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.
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