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RFK To Stay On as Attorney General Through Election

Jan. 8, 1964 - Robert F. Kennedy has reportedly decided to stay on as Attorney General through the election. President Johnson, for his part, has asked Mr. Kennedy to continue in the special role that his brother had given him outside the Justice Department. This gave him heavy responsibilities in intelligence and national security policy. He thus will continue to attend meetings of the National Security Council, of which the Attorney General is not a statutory member. He will carry on his work in the program of training in counter-insurgency techniques. Mr. Kennedy will maintain his relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency. And he will remain an adviser on Cuba and Latin-American problems generally, a role that results from his key part in the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

His decision to stay on as Attorney General, though many expected it, did not come easily. He had no heart for his work for weeks after the assassination. He would come to the Justice Department for a few hours, then leave. He was pale, subdued almost to the point of numbness. He came back to his desk this week from a skiing vacation in Aspen, Colo. (pictured), and now he seems more his old self. He is relaxed. He radiates warmth and good humor. He kids his associates. And he has piled into his work. “He has made peace with his situation,” one assistant says, “and with himself.” Not that the assassination has ceased to cause him continuous anguish. Listening to the State of the Union message today, he was still subdued, and he seemed under strain when President Johnson spoke of John F. Kennedy.

The relationship with Lyndon Johnson has never been an easy one on either side, and there is no reason to think it will be. The two men do not think the same way, and they are not naturally congenial. There was awkwardness in the first attempts to establish better relations after the assassination. After the difficulties of the past, however, what seems to be happening now is an effort by two proud men to grope toward each other. The President has gone out of his way to reach out for the Attorney General. Mr. Kennedy has told friends that he is going to make every effort to do what the President wants and needs.

Robert Kennedy has not settled his own plans beyond the immediate commitment to remaining as Attorney General. He has thought about going back to Massachusetts and getting into politics there. He has thought about the Vice Presidency. He has even thought about giving up public life altogether and becoming a teacher. He has reached no conclusion, and he does not think he will for some time.


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