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Bobby Baker, Lyndon Johnson and the Assassination of JFK

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By 1963 John F. Kennedy realised that Lyndon B. Johnson had become a problem as vice-president as he had been drawn into political scandals involving Fred Korth, Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker. According to James Wagenvoord, the editorial business manager of Life, the magazine was working on an article that would have revealed Johnson's corrupt activities. "Beginning in later summer 1963 the magazine, based upon information fed from Bobby Kennedy and the Justice Department, had been developing a major newsbreak piece concerning Johnson and Bobby Baker. On publication Johnson would have been finished and off the 1964 ticket (reason the material was fed to us) and would probably have been facing prison time. At the time LIFE magazine was arguably the most important general news source in the US. The top management of Time Inc. was closely allied with the USA's various intelligence agencies and we were used after by the Kennedy Justice Department as a conduit to the public."


The fact that it was his brother Robert Kennedy who was giving this information to Life Magazine suggests that Kennedy intended to drop Johnson as his vice-president. This is supported by Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy's secretary. In her book, Kennedy and Johnson (1968) she claimed that in November, 1963, Kennedy decided that because of the emerging Bobby Baker scandal he was going to drop Johnson as his running mate in the 1964 election. Kennedy told Lincoln that he was going to replace Johnson with Terry Sanford, the Governor of North Carolina.


Phil Brennan, a journalist working for The National Review, argued that the Washington press corps had buried the stories about the Bobby Baker scandal and the connections with Johnson. However, John J. Williams, the Republican Party senator for Delaware, called upon the Committee on Rules and Administration to conduct an investigation of the financial and business interests and possible improprieties of Baker. Brennan points out: "A few days later, the attorney general, Bobby Kennedy, called five of Washington's top reporters into his office and told them it was now open season on Lyndon Johnson. It's OK, he told them, to go after the story they were ignoring out of deference to the administration."


John Williams was known as "Honest John" and "the conscience of the Senate" because of his investigations into the corrupt activities of officials in the Harry S. Truman and the Dwight D. Eisenhower administrations. This included the downfall of General Harry H. Vaughan (1951) and Sherman Adams (1958). In September 1963 Williams began to look into the business activities of Bobby Baker. On 7th October, Baker resigned from his post as Johnson's Senate's Secretary. Three days later, Williams introduced a resolution calling for an investigation by the Senate Rules Committee.


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