On April 26, President Joe Biden pardoned Abraham Bolden, an 87-year-old who was the first Black man to join the presidential Secret Service security detail.
Bolden’s presidential pardon — for a ginned-up 1964 bribery conviction based on the testimony of witnesses who later admitted to lying — was the first introduction for many Americans to Bolden. The pardon statement characterized him as a brave and noble advocate for racial justice, who spoke out against the racist behavior of other Secret Service agents, and who maintained his innocence during his bribery trials and subsequent prison term.
But neither Biden nor the international news media that briefly picked up on Bolden’s pardon mentioned the explosive core issue: the ex-agent’s role in trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
To this day, Bolden believes that it was his warnings about problems with the Secret Service prior to Kennedy’s death, his knowledge of a conspiracy to kill Kennedy in an early November trip to Chicago, and his efforts to share what he knew with the Warren Commission that led to his being targeted with false charges.
This crucial context was not included in the White House press release, nor in most of the press coverage.
“I think readers don’t understand at all,” Bolden told WhoWhatWhy. “They just understand that I was pardoned.
“They don’t have the details of what occurred and what it had to do with the assassination of President Kennedy, how I was treated, the reason for my incarceration, the effort to declare me insane. Or the fact that I wrote a book that explained everything. That’s not before the public.”