When LBJ became President, J. Edgar Hoover had served as Director of the FBI under six Presidents.
photo: NARA

During the transition, Johnson also made frequent calls to J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI and an old political friend. Hoover was leading an investigation into Kennedy's assassination and kept Johnson apprised of what the Bureau was learning. In a call on November 29, 1963, Johnson summed up Hoover's report about the suspected gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

President Johnson: Well your conclusion is: (a) he's the one that did it; (b) the man he was after was the President; (c) he would have hit him three times, except the Governor turned.

J. Edgar Hoover: I think that is correct.

LBJ: (4) That there is no connection between he and Ruby that you can detect now. And (5) whether he was connected with the Cuban operation with money, you're trying to-

JEH: That's what we're trying to nail down now, because he was strongly pro-Castro, he was strongly anti-American, and he had been in correspondence, which we have, with the Soviet embassy here in Washington and with the American Civil Liberties Union and with this Committee for Fair Play to Cuba. None of those letters, however, dealt with any indication of violence or contemplated assassination…

After discussing details of the assassination, Hoover suggested measures he thought Johnson should take to protect himself from the same fate.

JEH: It seems to me that the President ought to always be in a bulletproof car. It certainly would prevent anything like this ever happening again. It doesn't mean you could have a thousand Secret Service men on guard and still a sniper can snipe you from up on the window, if you are exposed, like the President was. But you can't do it if you have a solid top, bulletproof top to it, as it should be.

LBJ: You mean, if I ride around my ranch, I ought to be in a bulletproof car?

JEH: Well I would certainly think so Mr. President, it seems to me that that car down at your ranch there...the little car that we rode around in when I was down there, I think it ought to be bulletproof. I think it ought to be done very quietly; there's a concern there out in Cincinnati where we have our cars bulletproofed. I think we've got four - one on the West Coast, one in New York, and one here. And I think it can be done quietly without any publicity being given to it or any pictures being taken of it, if it's handled properly. But I think you ought to have precautions because -on that ranch - it is perfectly easy for somebody to get on the ranch.

LBJ: Think those entrances all ought to be guarded though, don't you?

JEH: Oh, I think by all means, I think by all means. I think you've got to recognize, you've got to really, almost be in the capacity of a so-called prisoner because without that security anything can be done...

Within a week of Kennedy's assassination, Johnson created a high-level group to oversee the investigation. Johnson was concerned that several proposed inquiries - by the FBI, the U.S. Senate and the state of Texas - would generate a continuous flow of wild rumors about who killed JFK. He wanted one small team of men from different branches of the government to issue a definitive report on Kennedy's death.

Next: part 4

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