The meeting was told the CIA would look into the possibility of sabotaging airplane parts that were to be shipped to Cuba from Canada. McGeorge Bundy, JFK’s national security adviser, cautioned that sensitive ideas like sabotage would have to be considered in more detail on a case-by-case basis.
Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, was a lead advocate in arguing to the White House for keeping some materials secret, one senior administration official said.
While Kennedy was killed more than half a century ago, the document file included material from investigations from the 1970s and 1990s. Intelligence and law enforcement officials argued their release could put at risk some more recent “law enforcement equities” and other materials that still have relevance, the official said.
Mr Trump was resistant but “acceded to it with deep insistence that this stuff is going to be reviewed and released in the next six months,” the official added.
Despite having months to prepare for disclosures that have been set on the calendar for 25 years, Mr Trump’s decision came down to a last-minute debate with intelligence agencies – a tussle the president then prolonged by calling for still more review.
Researchers were frustrated by the uncertainty that surrounded the release for much of the day.
“The government has had 25 years with a known end-date to prepare JFK files for release,” University of Virginia historian Larry Sabato tweeted in the afternoon. “Deadline is here. Chaos.”
Asked what he meant, Mr Sabato said: “Contradictory signals were given all day. Trump’s tweets led us to believe that disclosure was ready to go. Everybody outside government was ready to move quickly.”