Lyndon Baines Johnson and the JFK Assassination
by Robert Morrow (with Jim Fetzer)
On the night of New Year’s Eve, 31 December 1963, at the Driskell Hotel in Austin, TX, Lyndon Johnson and Madeleine Brown, a longtime mistress and the mother of his only son, Steven, had an interesting conversation.
Madeleine asked LBJ if he had anything to do with the JFK assassination. Johnson got angry; he began pacing around and waving his arms. Then LBJ told her: it had been Dallas, TX, oil executives and “renegade” intelligence agents who were behind the JFK assassination.
LBJ later also told his chief of staff Marvin Watson that the CIA was involved in the murder of John Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson would often stay at the Driskill (in what is Room #254 today) and LBJ is confirmed by his presidential schedule as being present at the Driskill Hotel the night of 31 December 1963.
Later, Evelyn Lincoln (JFK’s personal secretary for 12 years) would observe,
As Mr. Kennedy sat in the rocker in my office, his head resting on its back he placed his left leg across his right knee. He rocked slightly as he talked. In a slow pensive voice he said to me, ‘You know if I am re-elected in sixty-four, I am going to spend more and more time toward making government service an honorable career. I would like to tailor the executive and legislative branches of government so that they can keep up with the tremendous strides and progress being made in other fields.’ ‘I am going to advocate changing some of the outmoded rules and regulations in the Congress, such as the seniority rule. To do this I will need as a running mate in sixty-four a man who believes as I do.’ Mrs. Lincoln went on to write “I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, ‘Who is your choice as a running-mate?’ ‘He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, ‘at this time I am thinking about Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.’
History is proving that Lyndon Johnson himself played a key role in the JFK assassination. An important book is LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination (2011) by Phillip Nelson. Roger Stone, an aide to Richard Nixon, is writing a book pinning the JFK assassination on LBJ. Stone quotes Nixon as saying “Both Johnson and I wanted to be president, but the only difference was I wouldn’t kill for it.” By 1973 Barry Goldwater was privately telling people that he was convinced that LBJ was behind the JFK assassination.
Lyndon Johnson and the Kennedys hated each other. So why was LBJ even put on the 1960 Demo ticket in first place? The old wives' tale is that it was to balance the ticket and win the electoral votes of Texas. The reality is that JFK was set to pick Sen. Stuart Symington of Missouri and already had a deal with Symington to be VP that was “signed, sealed and delivered” according to Symington’s campaign manager Clark Clifford.
Then something strange happened on the night of 13 July 1960, in Los Angeles. According to Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s longtime secretary, LBJ and Sam Rayburn used some of Hoover’s blackmail information on John Kennedy to force JFK to put Johnson on the ticket in a hostile takeover of the vice presidency.
JFK told his friend Hy Raskin, “They threatened me with problems and I don’t need more problems. I’m going to have enough problems with Nixon.” LBJ and J. Edgar were very close and literally neighbors for 19 years in Washington, DC, from 1943-1961. Both men were also plugged in socially and professionally to Texas oil executives such as Clint Murchison, Sr, H.L. Hunt and D.H. Byrd, who happened to own the Texas School Book Depository.
The war between JFK and LBJ
From that point on, for the next 3 and 1/3 years the Kennedy brothers and LBJ were engaged in a sub rosa war, even though they were ostensibly a political team. On the day of the ’61 inauguration, LBJ protégé Bobby Baker told Don Reynolds that JFK would never live out his term and that he would die a violent death.
For his part, Robert Kennedy spent the remainder of JFK’s term trying to figure out a way to get rid of the power-grasping LBJ. The first opportunity to do this was the Billie Sol Estes scandal of 1961.
Estes was a cut out for LBJ doing business and had received $500,000 from LBJ (which tells us how important Estes was). LBJ and his aide Cliff Carter manipulated the federal bureaucracy for Estes to ensure that he got exclusive grain storage contracts and numerous other special and highly lucrative favors. Estes says that he funneled Johnson over $10 million in kickbacks.
Henry Marshall was a US agricultural official who was investigating the corruption of Estes, particularly his abuse of a cotton allotment program. In January, 1961, LBJ, Cliff Carter, Estes and LBJ’s personal hit man, Malcolm “Mac” Wallace, had a meeting about what to do about Henry Marshall. LBJ said, “It looks like we will just have to get rid of him.”
Henry Marshall was murdered on 3 June 1961. He was shot to death 5 times with a bolt action gun and his death was astoundingly ruled a suicide at the time. The Marshall murder and cover up shows the depth, breadth and absolute ruthlessness of the LBJ organization. Billie Sol Estes died recently on 14 May 2013.
By 1963, they were alienated
The first person I know who accused Lyndon Johnson of committing a murder was Gov. Allan Shivers who in 1956 personally accused LBJ of having Sam Smithwick murdered in prison in 1952. Smithwick was threatening to go public with information about the Box 13 ballot stuffing scandal of 1948 which gave LBJ the margin of victory over Coke Stevenson in the Democratic primary. While historian Douglas Brinkley has said that by 1963, JFK and his vice president LBJ had no relationship at all, that is not correct; in fact a sub rosa war was being waged between the Kennedys and LBJ. It was an adversarial, death struggle relationship.
In the fall of 1963, the Bobby Baker scandal exploded into the national media. Bobby Baker, the Secretary of the Senate and a virtual son to Lyndon Johnson, was being investigated for a vending machine kick back scam and numerous shady deals. Baker was known for providing booze and women to the senators. LBJ denied any relationship with Baker (who had named two of his kids after LBJ), while at the same time sending his personal lawyer Abe Fortas to run (control) Baker’s defense. Evelyn Lincoln would later tell author Anthony Summers that the Kennedys were going to use the Bobby Baker scandal as the ammunition to get rid of LBJ.
RFK actually had a two-track program to get rid of LBJ. Phil Brennan was in DC at the time: “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.” James Wagenvoord, who in 1963 was a 27-year old assistant to LIFE Magazine’s managing editor, has reported that, based on information fed from Robert Kennedy and the Justice Dept., LIFE Magazine had been developing a major newsbreak piece concerning Johnson and Bobby Baker. This expose was set to run within a week of the JFK assassination. LBJ’s aide, George Reedy, said that LBJ knew about the RFK-inspired media campaign against him and was obsessed with it.
LBJ strikes first
RFK’s other “get rid of LBJ” program was an investigation by the Senate Rules Committee into LBJ’s kickbacks and other corruptions. Burkett Van Kirk was a counsel for that committee and he told Seymour Hersh that RFK had sent a lawyer to the committee to feed them damaging information about LBJ and his corrupt business dealings. The lawyer, Van Kirk said, “used to come up to the Senate and hang around me like a dark cloud. It took him about a week or ten days to, one, find out what I didn’t know, and two, give it to me.” The goal of the Kennedys was “To get rid of Johnson. To dump him. I am as sure of that the sun comes up in the east,” said Van Kirk to Hersh.
Three days before the JFK assassination, JFK told Evelyn Lincoln that he was going to get a new running mate for 1964. “I was fascinated by this conversation and wrote it down verbatim in my diary. Now I asked, “Who is your choice as a running-mate.’ He looked straight ahead, and without hesitating he replied, ‘at this time I am thinking about Gov. Terry Sanford of North Carolina. But it will not be Lyndon.’”
Literally, at the very moment JFK was being assassinated in Dallas on 22 November 1963, Don Reynolds was testifying in a closed session of the Senate Rules Committee about a suitcase of $100,000 given to LBJ for his role in securing a TFX fighter jet contract for Fort Worth’s General Dynamics.
Those behind the scene
I should add that I think the CIA/military intelligence murdered John Kennedy for Cold War reasons, particularly over Cuba policy. The fact that the Kennedys were within days of politically executing and personally destroying Lyndon Johnson could very well have been the tripwire for the JFK assassination.
The Russians immediately suspected that Texas oilmen were involved in the JFK assassination. They and Fidel Castro both feared they were going to be framed for it by US intelligence. By 1965 the KGB had internally determined that Lyndon Johnson was behind the JFK assassination. Hoover wrote to LBJ about this in a memo that was not declassified by the US government until 1996:
“On September 16, 1965, this same source [an FBI spy in the KGB] reported that the KGB Residency in New York City received instructions approximately September 16, 1965, from KGB headquarters in Moscow to develop all possible information concerning President Lyndon B. Johnson’s character, background, personal friends, family, and from which quarters he derives his support in his position as President of the United States.
Our source added that in the instructions from Moscow, it was indicated that “now” the KGB was in possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy. KGB headquarters indicated that in view of this information, it was necessary for the Soviet Government to know the existing personal relationship between President Johnson and the Kennedy family, particularly between President Johnson and Robert and “Ted” Kennedy.”
Posted 04 November 2009 -07:52 AM by John Simkin, Founder, The Education Forum:
I thought researchers would be interested in reading this email I received last night:
James Wagenvoord email to John Simkin, dated 3 November 2009:
I’ve been reading through you web site and believe that I can add one of the final jigsaw puzzle pieces that affect the timing of JFK’s Dallas trip and the nervousness of LBJ during the weeks preceding the killing At the time I was the 27 year old Editorial business manager and assistant to Life Magazines Executive Editor. 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 ’64 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. Life’s coverage of the Hoffa prosecution, and involvement in paying off Justice Department Memphis witnesses was a case in point.
The LBJ/Baker piece was in the final editing stages and was scheduled to break in the issue of the magazine due out the week of November 24 (the magazine would have made it to the newsstands on Nov. 26th or 27th). It had been prepared in relative secrecy by a small special editorial team. On Kennedy’s death research files and all numbered copies of the nearly print-ready draft were gathered up by my boss (he had been the top editor on the team) and shredded. The issue that was to expose LBJ instead featured the Zapruder film. Based upon our success in syndicating the Zapruder film I became Chief of Time/LIFE editorial services and remained in that job until 1968.
Robert Morrow, a political researcher and political activist, has an expertise in the JFK assassination. He can be reached at Morrow321@aol.com.
1) Brown, Madeleine Duncan. Texas in the Morning: The Love Story of Madeleine Brown and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Conservatory Press, 1997. Page 189.
2) Schlesinger, Arthur. Robert Kennedy and His Times. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978. Page 616.
3) Nelson, Phillip. LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination. Skyhorse Publishing, 2011.
4) Dickerson, Nancy. Among Those Present: A Reporter’s View of 25 Years in Washington. Random House, 1976. Page 43.
5) Hersh, Seymour. The Dark Side of Camelot. Back Bay Books, 1998. Page 126 and 407.
6) Epstein, Edward Jay. Esquire Magazine. December, 1966.
7) Estes, Billie Sol. Billie Sol Estes: A Texas Legend. BS Productions, 2004. Page 43.
8) Dallek, Robert. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times 1908-1960. Oxford Univesity Press USA, 1992. Page 347.
9) Brinkley, Douglas. Speaking on Hardball with Chris Matthews, 2012.
10) Brennan, Phil. “Some Relevant Facts about the JFK Assassination,” NewsMax, 11-19-2003. http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/11/18/152526.shtml
11) Reedy, George. Lyndon B. Johnson: A Memoir. Andrews McMeel Publications, 1985.
12) Wagenvoord, James. Email to John Simkin dated 11-3-09. Web link:http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=14966
14) Lincoln, Evelyn. Kennedy and Johnson. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968. Page 205.
15) Hoover, J. Edgar. Memo to Lyndon Johnson with FBI leadership carbon copied. 12-1-66. Web link: http://www.indiana.edu/~oah/nl/98feb/jfk.html#d1