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President’s Widow Disputes Book

October 7, 1997

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Contradicting a new book based on Oval Office tape recordings, former first lady Lady Bird Johnson said Tuesday that her husband believed the Warren Commission report on the assasination of President Kennedy.

Mrs. Johnson, who escorted news reporters through a new exhibit at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum at the University of Texas, said the former president respected the members of the Warren Commission and believed their conclusion that Kennedy was shot by a lone gunman.

Johnson was Kennedy’s vice president and assumed the presidency upon Kennedy’s death.

``I remember truly that he did wonder if this is a wider plot; a wider victims plan than one man, one person to assasinate,″ Mrs. Johnson said.

``He believed in those men on the Warren Commission and he believed that they had tracked down every iota that could be found. And so he wanted to go onward with Kennedy’s agenda, his agenda, Lyndon’s, and the problems that the country faced and needed to handle.″

A new book, based on tape recordings from Johnson’s presidency, says the former president thought Cuban dictator Fidel Castro played a role in Kennedy’s 1963 assasination in Dallas. The book says Johnson worried, though, that a retaliatory strike on Cuba could lead to nuclear war.

Johnson did not believe the Warren Commission’s report, the book says, citing a conversation between Johnson and commission member Sen. Richard Rusell, R-Georgia.

The account is reported by author Michael R. Beschloss, a historian, in ``The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964.″

Beschloss’ book quotes Russell as saying during a 1964 conversation with Johnson, ``I’m just worn out, fighting over that damned report. Well, I don’t believe it.″

``I don’t either,″ Johnson is quoted as saying.

Mrs. Johnson was adamant however that the president agreed with the report. ``He respected that decision and believed it. Yes.″

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