You are listening to some of the air traffic conversations which took place throughout the afternoon of November 22, 1963. The White House Situation Room, code-named Crown, is providing updated information from the press ticker to the president’s air crew in Dallas and to the crew of the plane carrying Secretary of State Dean Rusk. (Rusk’s plane here is called “Wayside.”) The code name “Volunteer” belongs to Lyndon Johnson.
It was the night of November 21st,in the Hotel Texas, Fort Worth. Inside room 850, President Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon Johnson would become engaged in a heated debate over the seating arrangement for the motorcade the next day. It was an argument so fierce the First Lady heard it from outside the presidential suite. Johnson insisted that his good friend Texas Gov. John Connally ride with him in the rear vehicle rather than in the President’s lead car. When Kennedy refused, Johnson stormed out of the room, prompting Kennedy to give his last dictated words to his secretary Evelyn Lincoln: “Johnson will not be on the ticket.” Sure enough, Connally was shot in the wrist and rib the next day.
Some two years earlier, on June 3, 1961, Federal Agricultural Agent Henry Marshall was found shot to death on his farm in Franklin, Texas. A local Justice of the Peace declared Marshall had committed suicide, but found next to Agent Marshall was a single action rifle which local authorities claimed he had miraculously loaded, shot, reloaded and shot into his head five times.
At the time of his death, Agent Marshall was on the trail of a multi-million dollar swindle of the federal government’s agricultural division. The gruesome murder became known as the Billy Sol Estes Affair. Johnson’s own personal legal counsel showed up as Estes’ principal attorney. According to later grand jury testimony, Estes tesified that he was a member of a four-member group, headed by Lyndon Johnson, “which committed criminal acts in Texas in the 1960’s.” The other two, besides Mr. Estes and LBJ, were Cliff Carter and Mac Wallace. Mr. Estes disclosed that LBJ ordered the Marshall killing, and that he transmitted his orders through Cliff Carter to Mac Wallace, who executed the murder.
In November of 1963, other scandals surrounding Johnson were coming to a head. There was the TFX scandal with Fred Korth, who had to resign a month before the assassination. There was the Bobby Baker scandal, there was the Billy Sol Estes scandal, and there was Johnson’s ties with Jack Halfen, a mafia man working for New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello.
As the scandals grew and Johnson’s Mafia ties became more and more pronounced in the media, Kennedy realized his administration’s survival was imperiled, and plans were underway to drop Johnson from the ’64 ticket. Kennedy’s plan to drop him from the ticket was a very real threat to both Johnson and his ally, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who were both heavily compromised by the same Mafia ties at a time when Attorney General Robert Kennedy was cracking down on organized crime. Once out of office, Johnson and Hoover would lose immunity from prosecution.
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