Sunday, 08 May 2016 19:46

Donald Trump, JFK, Oswald and the 2016 Presidential Election

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James DiEugenio decries how the JFK assassination has been injected into the 2016 presidential election with Donald Trump's baseless accusation that Rafael Cruz was present with Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans when he distributed leaflets for the FPCC.

Many of the serious people in the JFK community wish that the Kennedy assassination would figure more prominently in our political elections. Especially those for president. For example, back in 1992, both Bill Clinton and Vice-Presidential candidate Al Gore said they felt there were unanswered questions about the JFK assassination and the public had the right to know what was in the declassified files. In 2008, Hillary Clinton said she would open declassified files on the JFK case.

Unexpectedly, the JFK case has been injected into the presidential race this year. Although not the way most of us would like to have seen it done. The subject has not surfaced in relation to the final 2017 release date on the JFK Act. That would have been most welcome. Instead the controversy is about something that no one could have imagined in advance. The question being posed by Republican candidate Donald Trump is about the father of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Rafael Cruz. On May 3rd, Trump was on the TV interview show "Fox and Friends." He said this about candidate Cruz:

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot! I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What—what is this right, prior to his being shot. And nobody even brings it up. I mean they don’t even talk about that, that was reported and nobody talks about it. But I think it’s horrible. I think its absolutely horrible, that a man can go and do that….I mean what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald, shortly before the death—before the shooting? It’s horrible.”

Ted Cruz called these accusations “nuts,” “kooky,” and characterized the source material as “tabloid trash." He then went on to call Trump a “pathological liar,” a “narcissist." a “bully” and “amoral." It's not often that this publication agrees with Ted Cruz on anything. But we do on this one.

The 1963 photo allegedly showing Lee Harvey Oswald (left) with Ted Cruz's father Rafael Cruz

Cruz got one thing wrong about the sourcing. Although the National Enquirer did carry an article on the Cruz/Trump controversy, the original story did not actually begin there. It actually started with Wayne Madsen. Madsen published a story in the April 7th issue of his online journal called the Wayne Madsen Report. In that report, Madsen showed a famous photo of Lee Oswald passing out pro-Cuba handbills outside of Clay Shaw’s International Trade Mart in New Orleans. This incident occurred on August 16, 1963. There are some fascinating facts about this incident. But Madsen ignored those to center on a sensational, unsubstantiated accusation. He centered on a Latin looking man standing to Oswald’s left with a tie on, and what appears to be a white, short sleeved shirt. Although he is not the only man who is unidentified, Madsen used him to make a wild claim. He wrote that this was the father of Ted Cruz, Rafael Cruz.

As far as this author can tell, this claim is about as well established as Bill O’Reilly saying he heard the gunshot crack that killed George DeMohrenschildt in Florida, since he was standing on the doorstep when it happened. From what I could see in this story, Madsen had two pieces of evidence to make the claim with. Cruz was in New Orleans that summer, and he produced a photo of Rafael for comparison purposes. Neither of which comes close to proving the charge.

As this site has complained many times before, with very few exceptions, photographic comparisons are not reliable. We went through this a few years ago with Shane O’Sullivan getting on the BBC and saying there were three CIA operatives at the Ambassador Hotel the night Robert Kennedy was killed. This turned out to be wrong. And it appears to be wrong again here. Gus Russo has surfaced a clear photo of Rafael in his younger days, and it does not look like the man in Madsen’s story. He also found an identification card for Rafael, which states he was six feet tall in 1967. The man in the photo appears to be shorter than Oswald, who was 5 feet 9 inches. (See JFK Files blogspot of May 3, 2016) Finally, in the May 3rd issue of The Hill, Rafael Cruz denied he was in the Crescent City on that day.

As the late Mike Ruppert used to point out, Madsen was not the most accurate or factually addicted reporter to arise during the Internet revolution. In many instances, as Mike showed, Madsen’s reach exceeded his database of facts. Which appears to have been the case here. In other words, because of the questionable source, and the lack of substantiation, the story should have had no legs.

But it did. The National Enquirer then picked it up. This was interesting, for two reasons. The owner and publisher of the Enquirer is David J. Pecker, CEO of American Media. According to New York, and several other sources, Pecker and Trump are friends. In fact, Trump tried to push his friend for the editorship of Time magazine in 2013. (See New York issue of 10/30/2015). Once the Republican primary season got started, the Enquirer served as a journalistic surrogate for the Trump campaign. They did this by running timely hatchet jobs on both Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson.

When the ridiculously large Republican field finally narrowed to a trio of candidates—Trump, Cruz and John Kasich—something really weird happened which involved another character recently involved with the JFK field.

Author and political operative Roger Stone

Roger Stone had been a GOP operative specializing in what has been (kindly) called “dirty tricks.” He has been at it for a long time. He started off with the master of the genre Richard (Dirty Dick) Nixon. His last famous op was his alleged role in the so-called “Brooks Brothers Riot” in Florida during the 2000 Bush vs. Gore recount. This was when a cadre of congressional GOP aides masqueraded as Dade County citizens to protest a recount being held there. A recount that showed that Al Gore was gaining fast on George W. Bush. On top of this phony “grass roots” protest, Stone allegedly spread rumors that scores of Cubans were also coming to the recount location to protest. Along with the perverse ruling by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to stop the recount, this helped shut down a legitimate and legal voter tally that almost surely would have reversed the election result.

Stone and Scalia helped present us with one of the worst presidents in history. A man who, among other things, gave us the invasion of Iraq and the real estate/stock market crash of 2007-08. The latter was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The former was the worst foreign policy disaster since the Vietnam War. (Although, to be fair, Stone has had second thoughts about his role in that sordid affair and its horrific results).

Roger Stone has been friends with Trump for a long time. He actually consulted with him in 1999 when Trump was first considering an entry into the White House race. In this election cycle, Stone was actually on Trump’s advisory staff. He allegedly departed over the Trump dispute with Fox host Megyn Kelly.

I say “allegedly.” Why? Because Trump and Stone are both very knowledgeable about how to manipulate the media without their knowing it. I mean the “Brooks Brothers Riot” was not exposed until many months after its tumultuous effects had taken hold. In late March, the Enquirer ran a story about Ted Cruz and his five “extramarital affairs.” The only on-the-record source for that story was Roger Stone. As reported by "Real Clear Politics," Stone then took to talk radio to promote the story himself, challenging Cruz to file a lawsuit if the story was false. He then added smears about the senator’s wife, alleging she had a mental breakdown. (See Slate, March 24, 2016, story by Michelle Goldberg.)

David Pecker, publisher of The National Enquirer and good friend of Donald Trump

Interestingly, it appears that Madsen knew about the "Five Mistresses" story in advance. Madsen then surfaced the equally dubious Rafael Cruz story. Which Pecker and the Enquirer then picked up. What makes this interesting is that Roger Stone has of late developed another career, this time as an author. He has written or co-written a few books dealing with, among other things, the JFK assassination. Because of his high profile with the media, his books have attained some notoriety.

In a radio interview with AM 970 "The Answer," hosted by former actor Joe Piscopo, Roger Stone was pushing this equally dubious story. Who did he use as a source? Who else but Judy Baker. He also said he talked to a guy who did computer facial recognition and he said it was Rafael Cruz. To put it lightly, whoever could say such a thing about a facial comparison is either a Trump operative, half blind, or both.

But this is what politics has become in America today: a three-ring circus. And in all these stories, Oswald is presumed to be the assassin of President Kennedy. Try and find the word “alleged” anywhere. Did I say “three ring circus?" With Trump and Stone it’s more like a five ring P. T Barnum special. And recall the famous line (falsely) attributed to Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” In a sensible world, with a responsible press, the people to go to for an affirmation of the Rafael Cruz story would be writers who have studied the New Orleans aspect of the case for decades. And to use one reputable source, William Davy, according to the files of the late Jim Garrison, there was never any credible evidence that Cruz was in that photo. And since the present author also had access to those files, he can affirm Davy’s studied opinion. But in our upside down media universe, an authority like Davy gets ignored while someone like Roger Stone becomes the source of record.

Whatever the merit of his books on the JFK case, Stone surely has no expertise in New Orleans. Yet he is allowed to pontificate about the matter. After which one has to ask: If Stone was still working for Trump, could he have done any better for the man? Because it appears that these two stories—which our pitiful mainstream media actually picked up on—were part of the fatal fusillade that eliminated Cruz from the race and pushed Trump over the top.

Which all seems part of a rather unusual, perhaps unique, presidential election cycle of 2016. It is unique in the sense that both insurgent candidates—Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders—decided to run within the two party system. There was no serious consideration of a third party candidacy, as was the case with previous insurgents like Ross Perot or George Wallace. Surprisingly, both present candidates were quite successful. In lieu of a bitter fight at the convention, Trump appears to have won the GOP nomination. If it were not for the Gillis Long/DLC inspired and created “superdelegate” convention class, Sanders would be able to make a powerful convention challenge in Philadelphia. In fact, the main difference in the success factor was probably the fact that the MSM, in its worship of celebrity, was addicted to Trump. The man had more free publicity than any presidential candidate in modern American history.

With Stone’s help, Trump managed to do two things that supercharged his campaign. First, in a protean makeover worthy of Laurence Olivier, he altered his political profile. Trump first contemplated running for president back in 1999. At that time, he was encouraged by Jessie Ventura to run as the Reform Party candidate. Trump set up an exploratory committee helmed by—who else: Roger Stone. His ideas back then appeared to be moderate to liberal. They included universal healthcare, doing away with NAFTA, and higher taxes on the rich. He eventually dropped out of the race in February of 2000. He thought the Reform Party could not sustain a national campaign. In retrospect he was correct on that. He also objected to the entry into the party of people like Pat Buchanan and David Duke. As everyone knows this year, when Duke seemed to endorse him, Trump said he did not know what Duke was about.

Rush Limbaugh (top) and Glenn Beck

To say the least, Trump has transformed his public image since then. When he and Stone decided to run in the GOP field, they performed a bit of jiu jitsu magic right out of the gate. Since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the GOP has existed along two super highways that, schematically, run parallel to each other. On the lower highway, close to the ground, highly paid shills like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck mobilize and anger the Republican base. The red meat issues they use are things like immigration, nationalism, thinly disguised racism, and anti-abortion rights. Meanwhile, the real movers and shakers in the GOP have structured a higher, less visible highway made up of foundations, think tanks, and lobbyists that promote a much more broad and business minded agenda. This includes things like economic globalization, attacks on environmentalism, anti-unionism, and anti-healthcare. They also seek to destroy the public education system and limit upward social mobility through education. In other words, the agenda of this upper class drastically and negatively impacts the daily lives of the beer drinking proletariat that Limbaugh and Beck manipulate. Limbaugh and Beck use emotional pleas and shell games to divert from that fact.

What Trump did was to co-opt the Limbaugh/Beck arm of the party by being even more extreme than they were. By advocating for things like the construction of a wall on the Mexican/American border, and mass deportations of illegal aliens, Trump was actually out clowning Limbaugh for the Archie Bunker vote.

Trump in pursuit of the Archie Bunker vote (above)

Trump is too smart not to realize how unrealistic these things are, how susceptible they are to legal challenges. So he says them knowing that they will very likely never come close to fruition. But it inoculates him in the rightwing world of talk radio. He then tries to portray himself as a job creator who will make America Great Again, thereby outflanking the upper highway of the GOP. Tactically, Trump ran a very smart race. And the fact that the MSM never tried to really expose him helped a lot.

The problem with Trump’s candidacy is this: with his Proteus like switches and his bombastic promises, it is very hard to figure just what Trump would be like if he won the White House. And that is really bad. Because we know what happened between another well-disguised presidential candidate and his handler. In 2000, Karl Rove sold George W. Bush as a compassionate conservative. Which, to put it mildly, he did not turn out to be. With Trump, who has said just about anything about himself and everyone else to get elected—including accusing his opponent’s father of being involved with Oswald in New Orleans—you have a very large joker as a wild card.

He should not remain so. It is way overdue for someone in the media to do the real digging and exploring about who Trump really is today and what his presidency would actually be like.

Update:  In the above, I left out two other factors that would seem to support the idea that Roger Stone’s late-arriving writing vocation was at least partly done in the aid of Donald Trump. Stone has written or co-written four books in less than four years. Two of them directly figure in his work for Trump. In 2015, Stone co-wrote The Clintons’ War on Women. In this effort he shared billing with one Robert Morrow. Morrow is a Texas-based researcher who is also a rather late arrival on the JFK scene. But in addition to his Kennedy efforts, Morrow reportedly has a library of over one hundred books on the Clintons. This weekend, Trump was speaking about this very issue from the podium. That is, his treatment of women versus the Clintons. Clearly, the candidate is trying to overcome the gender advantage Hillary Clinton enjoys. One wonders if Roger Stone anticipated this months earlier.

Before Stone co-wrote a book with Morrow, he did the same with Saint John Hunt. This one was titled Jeb! And the Bush Crime Family. That book was published in October of 2015; in other words, about three months before the primary season began. At that time Jeb Bush was perceived as being one of the strongest candidates in the race – if for no other reason than he was the most well-funded. The GOP establishment had funneled over 100 million dollars into his war chest.

So when one adds it all up, one has to wonder if Stone had this planned out in advance. That is how his newfound writing career would help his friend Donald Trump. In regard to his support for these two National Enquirer stories described above, was the alleged divorce between Stone and Trump really genuine? One has to ask: Isn’t it better for a man with Stone’s reputation to perform his tasks while not being directly affiliated with the candidate? It is a bit startling that no MSM reporter has written about this subject.

One last point should be amplified. The unprecedented success of Trump and Sanders reveals much about how tired the public is with the status quo of our political parties. It would be the equivalent of two third party candidates getting more votes than all but one of 23 Republicans or Democrats in a primary season. This is how much unrest and frustration there is after eight years of Oprah Winfrey’s “Change” candidate, Barack Obama.

Last modified on Saturday, 29 October 2016 16:54
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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