A personal aide to President Ronald Reagan from 1975 until 1989 tells Breitbart News he is shocked to learn that John W. Hinckley Jr. could be released from his 13-day a month confinement at a Washington mental hospital as soon as Aug. 5.
“The whole thing is flawed,” said Jim Kuhn, who worked as an advance and body man for Reagan in the 1976 and 1980 campaigns and in Reagan’s second time took over running the president’s daily schedule. “The whole thing to me is insane that insane people would be released to the streets of the United States.” Kuhn was the man who did the advance work for Reagan’s speech at the Washington Hilton hotel that day.
Kuhn also shared insider details from the March 30, 1981 shooting. “Hinckley invades the press area, 20 to 30 feet from the presidential limo–major, major egregious error by the Secret Service that day, when he was not credentialed and should not have been there. It was one of the worst mistakes the Secret Service ever made,” he said.
After the shooting, all presidential events required metal detectors at the entry points into the inside security pocket, he said.
There was a natural tension between the White House advance and event staff and the Secret Service, who preferred that Reagan never leave the Oval Office, he said. “They were always asking: ‘Why do you need to go the Dallas? Why do you need to go to Tokyo? Why do you need go to Bogota?”
After the shooting First Lady Nancy Reagan became an ally of the Secret Service, he said.
“Nancy Reagan was in the center of everything. It made it difficult for White House advance men to get Reagan out into the public,” he said. “It became very sensitive with Nancy in the middle. You have to be very careful, because if you crossed Nancy Reagan, you were out of the White House and fired in a second.”
Kuhn said he has not forgotten that Hinkley shot three other men that day: Metropolitan police officer Thomas Delahanty, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy, along with White House press secretary James Brady.
Reagan recovered mentally and physically, he said. “He went on with his life.”
Delahanty and McCarthy recovered, too, but Brady never recovered and lived out the rest of his life with great difficulty, he said.
The Hinckley family spent millions to end the shooter’s confinement, which came after he was found not guilty by reasons of insanity. At the trial, Hinckley’s lawyers argued that he had watched the movie “Taxi Driver,” which starred a young Jodi Foster. In the film, the Robert DeNiro played taxi driver plots to shoot a candidate for president, but after being spotted by Secret Service, he goes to Foster’s brothel and kills her pimp to free her from her life on the streets. Hinckley, the lawyers said shot the president in an attempt to impress the actress.
Kuhn did the advance work for the speech at the Washington Hilton and drafted the event plan to the approval of the man, who controlled all travel plans, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, But, Kuhn was pulled from the event six days previous, so that he could work on Reagan’s trip to Illinois. That trip was supposed to include a 10,000-person rally, an address to a joint-session of the Illinois legislature and a reception for members of the legislature–all designed to muster support for the president’s tax cut plan.
During Kuhn’s meeting with Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson, the governor’s press secretary came in and said there was shooting at the Washington Hilton hotel, the Ohio native said.
“About 10 minutes later, the governor’s chief of staff came in and said Reagan had been hit with the other three,” he said. “It was total chaos.”
Thompson immediately arranged for his staff to collect the family of James Brady in Centralia, Illinois and ordered his two state planes to fly the Brady family to Washington to be near the press secretary, he said.
Kuhn also went out to Centralia, flew with them to Washington and stayed at the Brady residence in Washington, he said.
“I tried to stay out of the way as best I could and I explained that I was there to help them in any way I could. The networks cancelled all their programs and had go to all news. I remember standing in the kitchen and hearing Tom Brokaw said that Brady was in extremely critical condition,” he said. “Standing there, I just remember hearing his father: ‘Don’t Is there any way? Is there any way there could be a miracle that he’d live?’ and he did.”
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute issued a statement Wednesday on the Hinkley release: “John Hinckley is responsible for the shooting of President Reagan and three other brave men. One died two years ago from the wounds he received. Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release. They are all lives that matter dearly to us.”
Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Reagan and his first wife Jane Wyman, sent out a tweet Wednesday upon hearing the news: “My father did more than say the Lord’s Prayer He lived it in forgiving John Hinkley Jr…Maybe we should do the same….Mike Reagan” and in another: “My father forgave him. My father also wanted to tell him personally. Maybe I can.” [Both tweets edited for comprehension. See originals here and here.]
But, his half-sister, Patti Davis also shared her view in her blog: “At 2:25 when my father walked back outside, Hinckley yelled, ‘President Reagan! President Reagan!’ Then he crouched like a marksman and fired six shots. Four lives were changed in a matter of minutes.”
Davis wrote that she knew her father forgave Hinckley as part of his own recovery, but she cannot.
“I too believe in forgiveness. But forgiving someone in your heart doesn’t mean that you let them loose in Virginia to pursue whatever dark agendas they may still hold dear,” Davis wrote.
I will forever be haunted by a drizzly March afternoon when my father almost died, when Jim Brady lay in a pool of blood and two other men — Thomas Delahanty and Timothy McCarthy — were gravely wounded. If John Hinckley is haunted by anything, I think it’s that he didn’t succeed in his mission to assassinate the President.