Before Judith Campbell Exner died in 1999, she decided to betray her earlier 1975 testimony before the Senate Church Committee hearing and reveal the truth about her affair with John F Kennedy – and her role in ferrying documents and cash to the mob.
Kennedy and Exner’s affair began in 1960, after Frank Sinatra introduced the two in Las Vegas. JFK was a handsome senator who was also running for president at the time. The affair continued through most of JFK’s presidential term. Records would later confirm Exner’s phone calls and White House visits.
The Senate Church Committee was investigating alleged CIA plots to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro.
After FBI director J. Edgar Hoover told JFK in 1962 that his investigators had learned about the relationship and about Exner’s contacts with mob, the two met only infrequently. At their last encounter, in 1963, she became pregnant and later had an abortion.
In interviews just prior to her death, Exner said Kennedy told her of his plans related to Cuba and used her to carry money and files to mobster Sam Giancana, as well as to arrange numerous meetings between him, Giancana and Johnny Roselli.
A 702-page CIA dossier, known as the “Family Jewels”, compiled in 1973 by former Director of Central Intelligence director James Schlesinger, describe how Richard Bissell, a CIA officer, approached the CIA’s Office of Security to establish whether it had “assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action. The mission target was Fidel Castro”.
The documents also show that the CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu, then a top aide to Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, to approach mobster Roselli and pass himself off as a vengeful victim who wanted Castro killed because of lost gambling assets seized after Castro’s 1959 revolution.
This particular assassination attempt was suspended following the failed CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 brought the Soviet Union and the US moments away from nuclear over US demands for the Soviets to remove their nuclear missiles from Cuba.