Bush Angle to Reagan Shooting Still Unresolved as Hinckley Walks
Why did George H.W. Bush and his cabinet determine that John W. Hinckley Jr. — the man who in 1981 tried to kill the newly inaugurated President Ronald Reagan — was a lone nut, and no conspiracy, foreign or domestic, was involved? How did they arrive at this conclusion just five hours after the shooting, without any thorough examination?
And why won’t the Federal Bureau of Investigation release its documents on the shooter?
Hinckley, who was released from a federal psychiatric facility on August 5 after 35 years, remains a mystery, and that’s the way the government prefers it. Among the documents the Bureau withholds are those that reveal organizations linked to him — and the names of his associates.
One noteworthy individual will not even acknowledge knowing of Hinckley beforehand, someone associated with the shooter’s family, and an even longer history of dissociation — George H.W. Bush.
Most Americans have never heard about this — and even those who have will be intrigued by some little-known aspects. One is the rather unique way the Bush clan has dealt with or sought to dismiss such peculiar situations — and this is hardly the only one in which the family has been enmeshed.
Here’s an amazing example: Bush Senior, known to family and friends as “Poppy,” claimed he could not remember where he was when he heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. I discovered a good reason why he should have remembered — because he, himself, had been in Dallas that morning.
I learned this while researching the Bush dynasty for what would become the book Family of Secrets. I came upon one odd “coincidence” after another, weird ones that would make anyone’s eyebrows soar.
I also saw an FBI memo showing that the man who would later become Bush 41 had secretly called the FBI shortly after the shooting of President Kennedy with information on a man he said might be involved. It turned out that not only was the man not involved, but that Bush knew him personally — and even, via a subordinate, gave the man an alibi.
I also learned that Poppy Bush was a longtime acquaintance/friend of George de Mohrenschildt, the mysterious Russian “baron” who was perhaps the closest person to Lee Harvey Oswald in the year before Kennedy’s death.
Imagine my interest when I learned of de Mohrenschildt’s connections to American intelligence — and then that Bush Senior himself had covertly served the CIA for decades before being named CIA director as a purported “outsider” in 1976.
Indeed, he’d been secretly mucking around with the spy agency before, during, and after Kennedy was killed.
The CIA, of course, was later revealed by the Senate’s Church Committee investigation to be in the business of arranging the removal — or even the murder — of national leaders in various parts of the world.
Imagine my fascination, then, to learn that John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot and nearly killed President Ronald Reagan in 1981 — an attempt which, if successful, would have resulted in then-Vice President George H.W. Bush moving up to the top spot — was none other than a friend of the Bush family.
How strange is that? So strange that it literally caused NBC News’s anchor John Chancellor’s eyebrows to arch as he reported the curious connection.
The story was broken by the now-defunct Houston Post, and then picked up briefly by the AP and UPI wire services, and some newspapers, plus Newsweek.
Then it vanished without a trace or further inquiry or comment in the mainstream media.
The story was so baffling and off-putting that even I, in writing Family of Secrets more than a quarter-century later, did not mention it. I was preparing to publish a book with so many shocking elements that the publisher and I worried about whether the mainstream media would even dare cover it, or review it fairly; in that context, the Hinckley-Bush connection seemed one provocation too far.
Fast forward to early August of this year, when news came that a federal judge had ordered John Hinckley released from captivity. Hinckley had already been granted partial freedoms over the years, including extended stays with his family outside the mental facility where he has been incarcerated. But now he is effectively “out,” albeit with some supervision.
Word of Hinckley’s release was met with pregnant silence, including from entities and individuals that bray about “law and order” — who routinely support jail time with no possibility of parole for all manner of individuals, particularly the poor and the unconnected.
Neither description, of course, fits Hinckley.
The Hinckleys and the Bushes have been friendly for decades, going back to the days when both families set down stakes in the dusty town of Midland, Texas, a magnet for the children of wealthy, East Coast families seeking to cash in on the oil boom.
The Hinckleys were donors to Poppy Bush’s political campaigns over the years, and they gave to support the first, unsuccessful bid for Congress of the young George W. Bush, in 1978. The families lived close to each other, they socialized; I saw indications that, at one point, they may have shared the same lawyer.
Even more strangely, Neil Bush, son of the vice president, was scheduled to have dinner with Hinckley’s brother, Scott, the day after the shooting.
The shooting took place on Monday, March 30, 1981. Neil and his wife, Sharon, were to have dinner with a girlfriend of hers who brought along Scott Hinckley as her date. Scott had supposedly been invited to round out the foursome.
Neil and his wife, and Scott, all lived in Denver at the time. Scott’s father’s oil company, Vanderbilt Oil, had its headquarters in Denver at that time. Scott was a company vice president.
Meanwhile, the shooter, John W. Hinckley Jr., lived from time to time with his family in a small town outside Denver. In fact, at the time he shot Reagan, he was living with his parents.
This put Neil Bush, the senior Hinckleys, Scott Hinckley, and would-be presidential assassin John W. Hinckley Jr. in close quarters over an extended period.