Trump's JFK files release: The stories the US President could be trying to distract us from by clearing assassination files

Chris Baynes
Some have suggested Donald Trump could be diverting attention from negative stories: AP

Donald Trump's surprise announcement that he intends to allow the release of classified documents on the assassination of John F Kennedy has sparked speculation about his motives.

The decision, made against the advice of the National Security Council, has prompted suggestions the president may seeking to distract from a series of negative stories.

Some of the Mr Trump's most attention-grabbing tweets have previously diverted attention from mounting controversies.

As a humanitarian crisis loomed in Puerto Rico and anger at the US government's response grew, the President single-handedly sparked a furore over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

His sexist rants about TV host Mika Brzezinski in June came as Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare floundered.

The promise to make "long blocked and classified" files on the Kennedy assassination public was inevitable to command a huge amount of attention both in the US and around the world.

It also comes as an investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in last year's US election gathers pace.

It emerged this week that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, as part of an ongoing probe into possible collusion between Mr Trump's campaign and Moscow. Several other allies are expected to be grilled.

This week Mr Trump also came under an unprecedented dual attack from former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush, who denounced "politics of division" and said "bigotry seems emboldened" in thinly veiled comments.

The White House also faced mounting pressure to release further details on the circumstances around an ambush in Niger that led to deaths of four US soldiers on 4 October. Mr Trump's personal response to the attack, meanwhile, escalated into a high-profile feud with the grieving widow of one of the fallen servicemen.

The Trump administration also faced continued criticism over its handling of the crisis in Puerto Rico, where as much as 78 per cent of the island remained without power this week nearly a month after Hurricane Maria smashed through the US territory.

"This is enough to distract from Trump's lies, investigations, and incompetence," said sociologist Dr DaShanne Stokes, following the announcement about the JFK files. "Of course Trump will allow it."

Others suspected Mr Trump could be preparing for another scandal to break.

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, tweeted: "Is it wrong my first thought is 'What a great tale. I wonder what story is about to drop that Trump needs to distract the world from?'"

Mr Trump's said he would permit the release of the documents "subject to the receipt of further information", suggested the move could still be blocked. But the announcement has heightened anticipation of the files being made public.

The Kennedy assassination documents are due to be released by the National Archives on 26 October but it had been reported Mr Trump would not allow them to be made public.

The President is the only person in government with the authority to block the documents' publication.

The 1963 killing of Mr Kennedy shocked the world and has long been shrouded in controversy and conspiracy theories, with some people believing there was a second gunman.

Alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot dead by gunman Jack Ruby before he could be tried.