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Richard Nixon and the JFK Assassination


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I'd like to propose another scenario to for discussion. This would concern tying the JFK assassination, politically, together with the assassinations of MLK, RFK, and the shooting of George Wallace in 1972. In a political sense, who was the primary beneficiary of all these events?

Richard Milhaus Nixon.

JFK's election had dealt Nixon a serious blow to his political career, one that was compounded by his defeat for California governor in '62 and which led to the "won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore" comments. By 1963, the politically-savvy Nixon would have had to realize that with Kennedy's personal popularity, it would be at least 1968, if not 1972 or '76 if Bobby caught on with the public, before a Nixon presidency could happen. So JFK had to be eliminated for the sake of Nixon's political future. But Nixon was also savvy enough to realize that the LBJ sympathy vote, as JFK's sad-faced successor, couldn't be overcome in '64; he HAD to wait to run until '68.

By 1968, with the advent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the traditionally-Democratic black voters were listening to Dr. King, and Dr. King didn't have many nice things to say about Republicans. For Nixon to succeed against this newly-empowered black voting bloc, King had to be silenced...and he was. Whiel Eugene McCarthy was running away with the Democtatic presidential nomination, Bobby Kennedy was beginning to position himself as a viable candidate for at least the vice-presidential slot; and an already-embittered Nixon refused to watch himself lose yet another presidential election to a ticket with a Kennedy on the ballot. Bobby Kennedy had to be stopped...and he was. A demoralized McCarthy basically closed up shop after RFK's death, and the undistinguishable LBJ veep Hubert Humphrey was instead chosen to head up an easily-defeated Democratic slate.

In '72, Nixon was faced with another challenge: a 3-way race, which could possibly be decided in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, should no candidate garner a clear majority of votes. So Wallace was shot, and the choices came down to a gimp [wheelchair-bound Wallace], a wimp [McGovern], or...Nixon, who won in a landslide.

In this scenario, if you can determine exactly who was the power behind Nixon, you can determine who was behind all of these murders and attempted murders.

Obviously, Nixon wasn't pulling the trigger anymore than he was personally burglarizing DNC headquarters at the Watergate; but the operations were all apparently for his benefit, it would seem. And it's interesting that Nixon WAS in Dallas on November 22, 1963, although where he was at what time seemed to vary each time he told the story...and initially he denied being there at all!

Your thoughts?

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Guest Stephen Turner

Mark.

On the Watergate tapes, June 23, 1972. What has become known as, the "smoking gun" conversation, Nixon & Haldeman discussed how to stop the FBI investigation into the Watergate burlary, they were worried that the Fed's would expose their conection to " the Bay of Pigs thing". Nixon always refered to the assassination "Bay of Pigs". On the tapes Nixon keeps referingto the "Cubans," & the "Texans". The Texans were I belive GHW Bush, Mosbacher, & Baker. This IMHO, links Nixon & Bush to the assassination.

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I find this extract from an article by Evan Thomas (Washington Monthly, October, 1991) interesting. John Connally, of course came from Texas and I would include him on your list of Texans.

Connally's highly publicized trial in the spring of 1975 would reestablish Williams as the nation's preeminent trial lawyer. To his law partners - and to Williams himself - the defense of Connally would be remembered not just as a successful day in court but as a work of art. At the very least, it was a how-to guide for the defense of politicians accused of corruption.

Connally, former secretary of the treasury under Nixon, former governor of Texas, Lyndon Johnson's right-hand man, was not known for humility. The first time the Watergate special prosecutor asked him to testify before the grand jury, he "didn't pay a hell of a lot of attention to it," Connally recalled. The prosecutor was probing political payoffs to the Nixon administration from the milk producers, one of the most generous lobbies in Washington. Had Connally been offered $10,000 by a middleman named Jake Jacobsen to help the milk lobby? Connally dismissed the question. He couldn't recall "a dang thing" about any such conversation. A few months later, however, when he was called again before the grand jury, his memory improved. He had discussed such a contribution with Jacobsen, he conceded, but he swore that he had turned down the money.

The Watergate special prosecutor's office had become omnivorous, but Connally was too busy plotting his own political future to notice. He was on a 36-state speaking tour, a warm-up for a presidential run in 1976, when the grand jury leaks began. Columnist Jack Anderson and Daniel Schorr of CBS reported that Jake Jacobsen was singing to the grand jury, testifying that he had given Connally a $10,000 payoff. It began to dawn on Connally that the relaxed standards common in Texas did not apply in Washington. Watergate had "poisoned the atmosphere," he said.

Williams took Connally's call late on a Friday night in June 1974. "I'm at the Mayflower Hotel," Connally told him. "You've got to come over right now." Taking the first subtle step in his minuet of control, Williams told Connally he would see him--the next morning in Williams's office. Accustomed to lawyers who groveled for their clients, Connally did not realize that Williams would insist on reversing the roles. After the briefest consideration, Williams set his fee: $400,000.

On July 19, Connally was indicted for taking a $10,000 illegal gratuity from Jacobsen and then lying to the grand jury about it. Several weeks later, on the day that Richard Nixon succumbed to the Watergate onslaught and resigned as president, Williams accompanied Connally to the federal courthouse, where he was arraigned and fingerprinted. Afterward, the two men sat in Williams's office watching television as Nixon awkwardly waved from his helicopter and flew off into exile and disgrace. "You could feel what everyone in the office was thinking but nobody was saying," said Mike Tigar, the associate who was helping Williams on the case. Had it not been for the milk fund and the aggressive Watergate prosecutor, Connally believed, he would have been sworn in that day as president of the United States. Before the grand jury called him, Connally had fully expected Nixon to ask him to be his vice president, succeeding Spiro Agnew, who had resigned to avoid bribery charges in 1973. Now Connally faced a jail term, and only Williams could save him.

Williams's initial strategy was the same one he invariably employed in major criminal cases: delay. To mute the reverberations of Watergate, Williams wanted to put as much time as possible between Richard Nixon's resignation and Connally's trial. Williams knew that he could not make the case quietly go away by cutting a favorable deal with the prosecutor. His cagey charm was useless with the prosecutor assigned to the case, Frank Tuerkheimer, an upright and wooden law school professor who was wary of his famous opponent. The judge, however, was a more promising target. Frail and slight, with wispy hair, a pinched face, an arthritic hands, Judge George Hart was a Nixon appointee and Republican hard-liner. A few years before, he had sent Williams a friendly note praising him for his pro-law-and-order remarks during a TV interview...

"To be accused of taking a goddamned $10,000 bribe offended me beyond all reason," Connaly later protested. Among cynics in the firm, there was a sneaking suspicion that Connally's indignation stemmed from the fact that he had been indicted for taking such a small payoff. The joke around the firm was that if the bribe had been $200,000, Williams would have believed the government, since, in Texas politics, $10,000 was a mere tip...

There was no mention of payoffs on the tapes, however, no "smoking gun" - at least not on the tapes the jury heard. The jury was not allowed to hear a recording of a far more damaging conversation that took place between Connally and the president. After the formal meeting on milk price supports broke up that day in March 1971, Connally had asked to speak privately with Nixon. "It's on my honor to make sure that ther's a very substantial amount of oil in Texas that will be at your discretion," the treasury secretary said. "Fine," said Nixon. "This is a cold political deal," Nixon continued. "They're very tough political operators." "And they've got it," Connally said. "They've got it," Nixon agreed. "Mr. President," Connally concluded, "I really think you made the right decision."

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On a separate thread, Jim Root made the observation that (the #2 man in the Directorate of Plans in 1963) Thomas Karamessines, General Edwin Walker, and George Joannides, all saw action In Greece in the late forties. If in fact these men all knew each other and were working together, the finger points at Nixon. After all, Nixon's 1968 campaign was largely funded by right-wing Greeks, with some of the money being filtered back into his campaign from the right-wing CIA-supported dictatorship of Papadopoulis. How do you think Spiro Agnew ended up as VP?

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Nixon was extremely concerned with hiding his relationship with Pappas and any money that was involved. The greek scandal seemed to bubble beneath the surface of Nixon's offshore Bebe Rebozo network. Karamessines, Ed Walker and Joannides would have seen action in a largely ignored area, where old Nazis were embraced by US interests in an anti-communist/royalist front.

The Greek connection may be as important as the French Connection, and they may be related. Pappas certainly had some very powerful leverage over Mr. Nixon, and the Greek lobby seemed to get favors all out of proportion to their actual strength.......does this angle have room for the big shipping magnate? Was Aristotle Onassis any part of the Greek pressure group that inhibited Richard Nixon? ...... I have never much gone for the Onassis angle, is it enhanced by this overview??

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The Greek connection may be as important as the French Connection, and they may be related.  Pappas certainly had some very powerful leverage over Mr. Nixon, and the Greek lobby seemed to get favors all out of proportion to their actual strength.......does this angle have room for the big shipping magnate? Was Aristotle Onassis any part of the Greek pressure group that inhibited Richard Nixon? ...... I have never much gone for the Onassis angle, is it enhanced by this overview??

Onassis and Nixon were enemies. In the mid fifties Onassis had a deal set up whereby he would become the exclusive shipper of Saudi oil. His brother-in-law found about it and hired Robert Maheu to break it up. Maheu in turn went to Nixon and convinced Nixon it was important for the U.S. to stop the deal. As I remember it the next step was that Nixon went to Dulles and arranged for the CIA to foot the bill from thereon out. Maheu then used information gained from wire-tapping Onassis to convince the Saudis to back out of the deal. (This precedent where Maheu got Nixon to have the CIA back an operation already in motion makes me suspicious. Did he do the same thing with the Castro assassination plots?)

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I find this extract from an article by Evan Thomas (Washington Monthly, October, 1991) interesting. John Connally, of course came from Texas and I would include him on your list of Texans.

John,

Connally may well merit inclusion on that list , however one wonders why, if he were part of an assassination plot, he'd put himself ( or his wife ) " in the line of fire ".

If I knew JFK was going to be hit, I 'd walk on the other side of the street from him until it happened... whether I was privy to the details , or especially if I was not.

Ian

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Ian is right.

There is no way that Connally was part of the plot.

Gerry Hemming tells me that one of the shooters had a contract specifically to kill Connally, for what it is worth.

Most of us probably agree that Connally was hit more than once. If so, it seems the only implications are that someone was directing fire specifically at him, or the shooter was a terrible shot. The former seems the more reasonable assumption since one can, I think, reasonably infer that whoever lined up the shooters ensured each shooter had a reasonable proficiency as a sniper.

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Ian is right.

There is no way that Connally was part of the plot.

Gerry Hemming tells me that one of the shooters had a contract specifically to kill Connally, for what it is worth.

1. While Hemming may know something about the assassination, he certainly doesn't know everything. He is definitely making a lot of crap up.

2. NO WAY??? was Connally involved? That is a gross overstatement. With his connection to Johnson, his role in the planning of the trip, his "THEY are going to kill us all" comments, his refusal to say he believed there could have been a conspiracy even though, under pressure from his wife, he disagreed with many of the Warren Commission's central findings, Connally's behavior is suspicious as they come. Rewatch the Zapruder film and see how Connally's head jumps back and forth as soon as the car turns onto Elm. Look at his facial expressions throughout the whole motorcade. This is not a happy Governor greeting his voters. What Posner believes is Connally's reacting to a first shot I believe is Connally looking around to see where the shots are gonna come from. Ladybird told Nellie that the only thing that saved the state of Texas from the wrath of the country was that Connally was wounded in the shooting. Isn't it possible Connally had accepted the risk knowing this might be the case? I think you're under-estimating just how ruthless ruthless men can be. Connally's daughter had blown her head off with a shotgun only a few years before. Some people's sense of physical danger would never recover after that.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Pat makes some good points with Connelly's actions, maybe he was told someone was just going to come up out of the crowd and shoot the President ...Someone like DCM....

His comment "They are going to kill us all" could be looked at as the first thing that went threw his mind after nobody walked up and shot the president and rifle shots instead of handgun shots are going off. Maybe he felt he was double crossed and he himself was going to die if need be, as long as they got the president.

He lives and counts his blessings, he isnt going to say anything as to who "THEY" are, as it just put the scare of death in him that they killed the president and if he doesnt shut up he will be next.

Just food for thought after reading Pat's post.

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Connally may well merit inclusion on that list , however  one wonders why, if he were part of an assassination plot, he'd put himself ( or his wife ) " in the line of fire ".

       

If I knew JFK was going to be hit, I 'd walk on the other side of the street from him until it happened... whether I was privy to the details , or especially if I was not.

Ian

I have discussed this on another thread recently:

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=565

To quote myself:

Jim Bishop (The Day Kennedy Was Shot, pages 60-61) claimed that there was a fight between JFK and LBJ regarding the seating in the next day’s motorcade. According to Michael Benson (Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination – page 489) Craig Zirbel made this claim in The Texas Connection (page 254). However, it does not appear in my edition of the book.

I think the story came originally came from William Manchester (Death of a President). Manchester claims that LBJ and JFK had a loud argument in their last meeting together. According to Manchester, only LBJ and JFK knew what the argument was about, except that it was apparently about "the state's political feud," and Yarborough's name was heard several times by people outside the room.

However, in his book, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye (1972 - page 21) Kenneth O’Connell argues that this row was not about the seating in the motorcade. When JFK arrived in Texas it was arranged for him to attend a dinner at Governor Connolly’s mansion. Ralph Yarborough discovered he had not been placed at the head table with Kennedy. He was further infuriated by the decision not to invite Yarborough’s wife to the dinner. Yarborough blamed Johnson for this snub. When the party arrived in San Antonio, Yarborough refused to ride in the same car with Johnson. Kennedy was furious about this dispute (after all, he was visiting Texas in order to heal the divisions between Yarborough and Connally supporters. Kennedy applied pressure on Connally and Yarborough and his wife got to sit on the head table. By the time of the motorcade in Dallas, Yarborough and Johnson were willing to sit together in the car.

The original story appeals to those who believe LBJ knew about the proposed assassination attempt. John Connally was a close friend (he was involved in several of LBJ’s corrupt activities). At the same time he hated Yarborough for his liberal views on civil rights. If he knew about the assassination attempt, he would rather have had Yarborough sitting next to him. Of course, it could be argued that LBJ might have wanted Connolly killed as he knew a lot of his secrets.

Anyway, it is unlikely that LBJ could have believed that Connolly could be persuaded to give up his seat in the presidential car. Connolly, not Yarborough, was the host.

There is another theory on this subject. LBJ and Connolly knew about the assassination attempt but expected it to take place later. This helps explain Connolly comments when the firing started: "They are going to kill us all". This implies that he believed that there was only one target that day in Dallas.

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I agree with Ryan's comments. To the casual observer, it would seem ridiculous for Connally to place his and his wife's lives in such danger, therefore he couldn't have known of the plot. But "they're going to kill us all" seems like a strange thing to say. If the shots were a complete surprise, wouldn't he be more likely to say something like, "what the ####, get down there's a shooter" or something similar? Maybe he expected, as Ryan suggests, a pistol shot or clean rifle shot on JFK or possibly the other theory is plausible--that both he and LBJ expected a later hit for JFK? I don't really believe the latter because LBJ was pretty determined to get Governor Connally back there with him and Senator Yarborough up in the shooting gallery with JFK. Anyway, back to Tricky Dickie.

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While Harry Truman once said that Nixon was a "shifty-eyed, lying S.O.B. and everybody knows it," it is Nixon's own statements that cast doubt on what he did or didn't do on November 22, 1963. At first, Nixon had no recollection of even being in Dallas on that fateful day...then he has NOT one, NOT two, but at least THREE stories of how he learned of JFK's assassination (reporters' questions at Idlewild; heard at stoplight while in taxi; and told when he exited taxi at his building in NYC).

I don't know about YOU, but I know EXACTLY where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news of JFK's shooting, and where I was and what I was doing when I heard he was dead. Specifically, I was a fourth-grade student on the playground at recess just after lunch when a classmate came running breathlessly out of the school to tell us that "Kennedy's been shot!" We all accused him of lying, but he insisted that, as he returned from the bathroom, he passed by the principal's office and saw the principal standing in front of the TV--the very same one that, a few weeks earlier, we'd been allowed to watch World Series games on in the school cafeteria--with tears streaming down his cheek. By the end of recess, the normally boisterous students were whispering among themselves as we filed back into our classroom. A short time later, the principal's voice came over the intercom with the most stunning message I'd ever heard in my life:

"MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE? THE PRESIDENT IS DEAD. I REPEAT: THE PRESIDENT IS DEAD."

I saw things that day I'd never seen in my life...Civil Defense vehicles parked in odd locations all over town, with men in them talking on radios, preparing for the possible invasion to follow this dastardly attack, for example.

And yet, on a day like this, Nixon can't even remember where he was, much less what he was doing when he heard the news. How utterly incredible!

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But "they're going to kill us all" seems like a strange thing to say.

Who first quoted Connally as saying that? I'm sure Connally didn't volunteer the information. Kellerman apparently didn't hear it, on the contrary he claimed to have heard JFK say "My God, I am hit!" I've always assumed it was Nellie, talking to the press while John was in the hospital and attaching no dark significance to the exclamation. (I can hear Nellie drawling now: "And John said, "My Gawd, they are going to kill us awl." And John is thinking, "Damn, woman, shut up.")

Ron

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