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What I Can Do For My Country
March 3, 1999
Today started out differently. I wasn't forced onto government aircraft controlled by the United States marshals, I wasn't stuck in cold holding cells for days, and my wrists and ankles weren't chained to a lock box at my waist. No one had died today, and no one was trying to kill me. I was put in an unmarked car and I could see out the windows; I hadn't seen outside in eight months. I was in the custody of IRS Agent Clara Mancini and FBI Special Agent Joe Callahan; they were driving me to the Federal Greenbelt Courthouse in Maryland. I had to go to the bathroom.
When we arrived I asked permission to relieve myself.
"Absolutely not," spat Mancini contemptuously.
"I'll take him," Callahan said. He led me down the hall, and aggressively pushed me through the door of the men's room. "Stand still." In the privacy of the facility his demeanor changed; he spoke to me like I was a human being and unlocked my steel bracelets. "Your files are stacked two feet tall on my desk. Why didn't you just come in?"
I rubbed my wrists; I was confused about his breach in protocol. Since my arrest, this was the first conversation with a government official that felt genuine, but I needed to know if he was trying to help me, or hurt me.
Callahan lowered his voice and spoke with more intensity. "The attorney general is going to bury you. I know about your letter to the president; can you save yourself?"
"I don't think ..."
A loud knock broke my response and Mancini's aggravated voice came through the door. "Hurry up."
Agent Callahan quickly snapped the cuffs back on my wrists and walked me out of the bathroom. I never got to go.
Both agents led me through a security door and down a hallway. Callahan turned to Mancini. "You know we have to wrap this up before the Bush election."
Mancini gave him a distasteful look. "Yup." She spoke abruptly to cut him off
As we arrived at the end of a long corridor, my lawyer, Stephen N. Salvin, stood waiting outside another secure door. Agent Mancini punched a code in the keypad and walked through. Agent Callahan left, and I remained in the custody of a federal marshal standing beside me.
Salvin had a strained look on his face. "I can't go in with you," he said, "it's a closed interrogation. You've waived your constitutional rights, but it's the deal we had to make."
Deal was an interesting word to describe it.
"Don't hold anything back," Salvin instructed, "the government wants answers. At this stage they don't care whether you're a terrorist, if you've killed a thousand people, or if you've dealt with atomic weapons; it's all covered under your blanket immunity, in exchange for your cooperation."
My eyes locked on his. "You know I've never done anything like that."
He nodded. "Just remember, your family won't be touched now."
My family ... I started to collapse within myself. I couldn't stay focused on what Salvin was saying; this was all too surreal. I knew I didn't fully trust him, but I was forced to take his direction under threat of even more terrible consequence: I had no choice.
"You're facing fifty years," Salvin said. "The Department of Justice's recommendation will mean everything. Just try to forget how you feel." He scrutinized me.
I knew how I looked: sallow, sleep deprived, nauseated, a shell of my former self ... and this was a good day.
He advised me to put the misery aside and answer their questions directly and calmly. "Everything will be taken down for the record. It'll be classified, so we won't have access to it. Just try to remember as much as you can and write it down as soon as you get a chance. I know it's nearly impossible get anything to write with in the hellhole they're keeping you in — that place is designed to break people — but it's important you try." He looked at his watch. "It's time."
Too much was riding on this; my life was riding on this. I had to swallow my anxiety, my fear, but the question kept screaming in my brain: What the hell am I doing here? I took a deep breath and tried to appear composed, as the marshal escorted me through the door.
I was delivered into a small courtroom with a marble floor. The great seal of the United States hung above the proceeding. I walked through the center of the room to a podium. A federal judge and stenographer sat on my right, and a group of officials sat on the opposite side of the room. Their eyes followed me, emotionless. My cuffs were removed and Assistant District Attorney Stewart Barman ordered me to sit.
Barman addressed the room: "This is a proffer session debrief for Mr. Christopher Fulton. He has agreed to this session of his own free will. He will answer all questions put to him under penalty of perjury. He has agreed to plead guilty to the charges against him and is facing up to fifty years of imprisonment. The Department of Justice will recommend a reduced sentence based on his cooperation. The government has granted Mr. Fulton and his immediate family blanket immunity for anything that is said here today, or any other information or actions that are known, or become known, that occurred prior to this proffer. The United States Government will not bring any further charges against Mr. Fulton or his family, or assist any foreign government in charging him or his family." He turned to me. "Mr. Fulton, do you understand?"
"Yes." My mouth was dry, but I spoke clearly.
"Please state your name and occupation for the record."
He was really asking, Who are you? ... but I didn't recognize myself anymore.
* * *
I grew up in Maryland, just outside the District. My mother was personable and smart, a stewardess, recommended by Howard Hughes to fly aboard the Lockheed Constellation shuttle between Washington and New York. Of the many important and interesting individuals she met, her favorite was Bobby Kennedy; they shared several long conversations together.
I learned from an early age about reputation and privilege, not from our family name or wealth, but from my mother's remarkable way with people. When I was two years old, she arranged a private tour of the White House for me which included the upstairs rooms. I even met President Johnson. I can't remember what he said to me, but I have a photograph to commemorate the occasion. From a very young age, I developed a great appreciation for history; my taste, desire, and love for it came from my mother's influence.
My family roots grow deep in the soil of a proud American military heritage. I'm the descendant of William Vaughn Jr., who fought with distinction in the Revolutionary War, and General John C. Vaughn, who fought in the Civil War. Most of the men in my family tree served in the United States Navy. My parents assumed I would follow in those footsteps. When I turned eighteen, an Admiral wrote a letter of recommendation for my acceptance into the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis; it was a great honor. I was on my way, and my family was sure my future was set, but I wanted something different; I wanted to do the kinds of things my father had done.
My father was the Vice President of Weldcrete, a company that supplied NASA with the exceedingly hard concrete used to withstand the intense heat and powerful exhaust from the Apollo rockets. As a boy, I collected patches from the missions that my father helped make possible.
Although I was one of the first men in my family not to serve in the Navy, I eventually became successful in the commercial construction industry. It took years of struggle, hard work, and personal sacrifice, but I reached my goal and fulfilled my dream: I became an independent general contractor. I would always be proud of that, but the real thread of passion throughout my life, my love of history — particularly American history — never left me.
* * *
In this cold courtroom, I was about to be questioned by U.S. Assistant District Attorney Stewart Barman, witnessed by representatives of the secret agencies intended to keep our nation safe, and the military I would have been a part of ... My childhood was an unattainable memory, and my future was about to be stolen.
"Mr. Fulton, please state your name," the prosecutor said again.
"Yes," I said, as I pulled myself back into the present, "my name is Christopher Fulton; I'm an independent general contractor."
"Mr. Fulton, when did you first meet Mr. Robert L. White?"
"You were living in Maryland at that time, and Robert White was the friend of a friend?"
"When did you become aware of Robert's relationship with Evelyn Lincoln, President Kennedy's personal secretary?"
"You're saying he kept that information from you for two years?"
"Yes," I responded. The panel looked doubtful, so I continued, "He had a deal with Mrs. Lincoln, to keep the information she shared with him secret until after her passing."
"Mr. White only shared information with you after Mrs. Lincoln died?"
"Yes, that's correct."
The judge sat behind the bench in her traditional black robes. "Mr. Robert L. White, do you understand why you are here today?"
Robert nodded respectfully. "Yes, ma'am."
The handful of people present looked on in silent anticipation. Robert didn't recognize any of them. He was concerned someone else would try to lay claim to his inheritance. His palms were clammy, he was nervous; this ruling could change his life.
The judge continued, "The matter before me is the evaluation of the wills of Evelyn Lincoln and Harold Lincoln. Harold Lincoln passed shortly after his wife. Maryland state law requires me to review his will; however, due to special circumstances I will review both wills to ensure the legality of their contents, to determine whether or not Mr. White shall inherit under their stipulated terms. At Evelyn Lincoln's instruction, copies of both wills were sent to the John F. Kennedy Library. Nothing has been filed in contention by the library in this matter. Let's proceed."
A calm voice came from the back of the courtroom. "May I approach the bench?"
Robert craned his neck as everyone in the courtroom turned to see who spoke. A silver-haired woman stood in the aisle; she was in her eighties and impeccably dressed.
"Do you have something to add to this proceeding?" the judge asked.
"I do, Your Honor. My name is Angela Novello; I was Robert F. Kennedy's personal secretary." She spoke with an air of competence that was well suited to her previous work. The room hushed.
"Please approach the bench, Mrs. Novello."
Novello, with all eyes on her, walked towards the front of the courtroom. Standing before the judge, she removed an envelope from her purse, and placed it on the desk. "This is for you," she said quietly.
The judge examined the envelope. There was a handwritten note on the front: "This letter is only to be opened upon my death." It was signed: "Evelyn N. Lincoln, secretary to the late President John F. Kennedy." The back of the envelope was secured with wax and stamped with the seal of the office of the President of the United States. The judge placed her hand over the microphone. "What is this about?"
Just above a whisper, Novello responded. "This letter was given to me in case Mrs. Lincoln's will was contested, or required to go through any court process. I was instructed to give it to the presiding judge for their eyes only."
The judge put on her reading glasses and weighed the gravity of breaking the seal. She understood the presidential seal was used for the private correspondence between the President and the U.S. Senate, but this was a unique situation. She broke it, and carefully opened the envelope. The letter inside was typed on White House stationary. She read in silence:
To whom it may concern,
As the private personal secretary of President John F. Kennedy, I, Evelyn N. Lincoln, was trusted with matters of the highest national concern. The intent of my will is to accomplish the best interests and directives given to me by the president's brother, the late Robert F. Kennedy.
Following President Kennedy's assassination, the citizens of our great country were left deserving information which they could not receive. In 1965, I took careful instruction from Robert Kennedy in regards to gathered and non-relinquished evidence in his custody, in relation to the assassination of President Kennedy. As instructed, I kept Robert Kennedy's intentions secret to ensure the safety of the remaining Kennedy family.
In 1992, I bestowed upon Mr. Robert L. White, of Catonsville, Maryland, by way of gift, an important artifact worn by President Kennedy the day he was assassinated. I received this item with instructions from Robert Kennedy. I gifted it to Mr. White to ensure its transfer and safekeeping. A sealed letter, such as the one presented to you today, is included in my estate and must now accompany that artifact as a matter of law. That letter details the special circumstances of that item.
Upon his inheritance, Mr. White's plan is to open a museum dedicated to President Kennedy. It would lie outside the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration and the John F. Kennedy Library. It is my hope he will be successful in that endeavor; however, the opening of his museum is not preclusion to his inheritance.
It is my intent that the materials saved by me, as President Kennedy's secretary, and passed to Mr. White, shall not fall under the control of the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Pentagon, the National Archives and Records Administration, the John F. Kennedy Library, the White House, or any other branch of government or agency.
If my will is contested, or ruled upon in any way that results in Mr. White's failure to receive as per my wishes, I have made arrangements, as directed by Robert F. Kennedy, for copies of all sensitive information in my keeping, related to the national security interests of the United States, to be published by a foreign press.
My final wishes are for this letter to become a permanent part of the record of my last will and testament, and be placed under seal.
Evelyn N. Lincoln
Personal secretary to the late President John F. Kennedy
The judge put down the letter, removed her glasses, and looked at Mr. White. A heavy burden had been placed upon her: based on her ruling, security interests of the United States could be exposed. "We will take a recess while I review the wills in chambers; court will adjourn for two hours." She hammered down her gavel.
Everyone in the room was intrigued by the mysterious letter that prompted the recess. Robert rose from his seat to speak with Mrs. Novello but his wife, Jacquelyn, put a restraining hand on his arm. "Now's not the time," she said. Robert felt uneasy; he would have to wait even longer to find out if the items bequeathed to him, which once belonged to President John F. Kennedy, would legally be his at the end of the day.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Inheritance"
Copyright © 2018 Christopher Fulton & Michelle Fulton.
Excerpted by permission of Trine Day LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Publisher's Foreword iii
Introduction Dick Russell v
Table of Contents ix
1 What I Can Do For My Country 3
2 Inheriting Camelot 8
3 Material Evidence 13
4 The Approach 19
5 The Secrets Of Events 24
6 Under American Skies 36
7 Newton's Law 40
8 Legacy 44
9 Divided By History 47
10 Like A Game Of Chess 55
11 To Kill A Country 59
12 For All Of Us 70
13 Bonded By Blood 80
14 Liberty Knell 85
15 The Camelot Archives 90
16 The Secrets Man 95
17 Broken Promise 131
18 The Devil Cut In 134
19 Wings Of Wax 139
20 A Matter Of National Security 144
21 Unamerican 151
22 It's Not The Fall, It's The Stop 161
23 Letters To No One 170
24 Destiny Or Destruction 174
25 Slipping The Snare 182
26 Best Interests 185
27 Crossing The Threshold 187
28 Red White And Bars 195
29 Knocking At The Door 200
30 Most Wanted 204
31 False Flag 211
32 Extradition 216
33 Diesel Therapy 222
34 The Gauntlet 227
35 Temporary Bodies 231
36 The Color Red 237
37 Life 248
38 Fighting The Green Lion 251
39 Wisdom 255
40 Holy Sin 264
41 The Deal I Had To Make 269
42 When All The Stars Have Fallen, There's Nothing Left But Bars 275
43 Courage Rises With Danger 281
44 The Prophet's Clock 289
45 The Wounds That Never Heal 293
46 God Took A Holiday 302
47 Ameri-Can't 307
48 The Most Dangerous Man 318
49 A Glint Of Truth 327
50 The Keepers Of Secrets 332
51 Liberty And justice For All 335
52 Its Nothing Personal 346
53 Just Being Alive Is A Gift 354
54 One Hell Of A Story 360
55 Time Waits For No One 367
56 You Can't Go Home 372
57 A New Future 379
Documents & Photographs 385