Albert E. Jenner

Albert E. Jenner

Albert E. Jenner, the son of a police officer was born in Chicago on 20th June, 1907. He grew up in Canaryville, on the south side of the city. A talented sportsman he earned extra money while at college as a professional boxer, fighting six-round matches at $50 each.

Jenner attended the University of Illinois. He was also circulation manager at the Daily Illini, the student newspaper. He later married Nadine Newbill, a reporter on the newspaper.

Jenner spent a year in law school before joining the legal firm of Poppenheusen, Johnston, Thompson and Cole. He became a partner of the firm in January 1939. During this period Jenner developed relationships with several prominent clients, most notably Henry Crown, the principal shareholder in General Dynamics.

In 1947 he became the president of the Illinois State Bar Association. In 1951, President Harry S. Truman appointed Jenner to serve on the National United States Loyalty Review Board and four years later he became a name partner at the firm. (The firm eventually changed its name to Jenner & Block).

In 1963 J. Lee Rankin, chief counsel of the Warren Commission, appointed Jenner as a senior counsel that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As Russ Baker, the author of Family of Secrets (2009), has pointed out: "Albert Jenner was truly a curious choice for the commission staff. He was fundamentally a creature of the anti-Kennedy milieu - a corporate lawyer whose principal work was defending large companies against government trust-busting... Jenner's most important client was Chicago financier Henry Crown, who was the principal shareholder in General Dynamics, then the nation's largest defense contractor and a major employer in the Fort Worth area."

Jenner headed the team that looked into the life of Lee Harvey Oswald. This included several interviews with George de Mohrenschildt. His chapter of the report was called: "Oswald's Background History, Acquaintances and Motives."

After the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Jenner to the U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (NCCPV) that was chaired by Milton S. Eisenhower.

In June 1968, Earl Warren retired as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Johnson had no hesitation in appointing Abe Fortas as his replacement. Clark Clifford suggested that Jenner should replace Fortas. However, Johnson appointed another friend from Texas, Homer Thornberry, instead.

The Senate had doubts about the wisdom of Fortas becoming Chief Justice. It was later discovered that Fortas had lied when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was also revealed that a convicted financier named Louis Wolfson had agreed to pay Fortas $20,000 per year for the remainder of his life. This arrangement was condemned as ethically improper and Fortas was forced to resign from the Supreme Court in May 1969. Johnson was also forced to withdraw the name of Thornberry.

In 1969, Sherman Skolnick, head of the Citizens' Committee to Clean Up the Courts, examined the stockholder records and discovered that Chief Justice Roy Solfisburg and former Chief Justice Ray Klingbiel both owned stock in the Civic Center Bank & Trust Company (CCB) of Chicago at the same time that litigation involving the CCB was pending at the Illinois Supreme Court. Skolnick contacted several members of the media and eventually this information was published by all the major papers.

Jenner was asked to take part in this investigation that was being led by John Paul Stephens. The commission discovered that Solfisburg and Klingbiel had received the stock as a gift before the decision about the Civic Center Bank & Trust Company was made by the Illinois Supreme Court. When the commission reported back, it recommended that both Klingbiel and Solfisburg resign, which they did a short time later.

In 1973 the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee named Jenner as the Committee's Chief Minority Counsel. He therefore took part into the HSC investigations into the Watergate allegations against Richard M. Nixon. Jenner was ultimately forced to resign as special counsel when he recommended the impeachment of Nixon.

Jenner was a director of General Dynamics and the chairman of the of Judicial Selection Committee of the American Bar Association. He also served on the Board of Governors of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and as the president of the American Judicature Society.

Albert E. Jenner died on 18th September, 1988.

Primary Sources

(1) Russ Baker, Family of Secrets (2009)

Commission assistant counsel Albert E. Jenner Jr. was the staffer who conducted the interrogations of George and Jeanne de Mohrenschildt, which lasted two and a half days. As he did with several other key witnesses, Jenner had private conversations with George de Mohrenschildt both inside and outside the hearing room. Perhaps to ensure that he would not be accused of something underhanded, he went out of his way to state the fact of those outside consultations for the record.' Aside from asking de Mohrenschildt, on the record, to verify that everything they had discussed privately was reiterated in the public session, Jenner never made clear what the subject matter of those private conversations was.

The transcript of the de Mohrenschildts' testimony runs 165 pages." It reveals George to be a remarkably interesting, dynamic character, whose life resembled that of a fictional adventurer. But numerous points of his testimony, especially relating to his background and connections, cried out for further scrutiny. Instead, Jenner consistently demonstrated that he was either incompetent or deliberately incurious when it came to learning anything useful about de Mohrenschildt.

To wit, here is an exchange between Jenner and de Mohrenschildt, in Washington, on April 22, 1964, with a historian, Dr. Alfred Goldberg, present. Jenner, who had already read extensive FBI reports on de Mohrenschildt, could be forceful when he wanted answers. But most of his moves were away from substance. He seemed determined to reach the commissions conclusion that de Mohrenschildt was a "highly individualistic person of varied interests," and nothing more. In fact, Jenner stonewalled so assiduously that even de Mohrenschildt registered amazement:

MR. JENNER: You are 6' 1", are you not?


MR. JENNER: And now you weigh, I would say, about 195?

MR. DE MOHRENSCHILDT: That is right.

MR. JENNER: Back in those days you weighed around 180.

MR. DE MOHRENSCHILDT: That is right.

MR. JENNER: You are athletically inclined?

MR. DE MOHRENSCHILDT: That is right.

MR. JENNER: And you have dark hair.

MR. DE MOHRENSCHILDT: No gray hairs yet.

MR. JENNER: And you have a tanned-you are quite tanned, are you not?


MR. JENNER: And you are an outdoors man?

MR. DE MOHRENSCHILDT: Yes. I have to tell you-I never expected you to ask me such questions.

Why was Jenner even on the commission staff? Chairman Warren offered an oblique justification for his hiring that perhaps was more revealing than the chief justice intended. He was a "lawyer's lawyer," Warren said, and a "businessman lawyer" who had gotten good marks from a couple of unnamed individuals. Commission member John McCloy timidly inquired whether they shouldn't hire people with deep experience in criminal investigations. "I have a feeling that maybe somebody who is dealing with government or federal criminal matters would be useful in this thing." Warren then implied that this was unnecessary because the attorney general (Robert Kennedy) and FBI director (J. Edgar Hoover) would be involved, totally ignoring the strong personal stakes of both officials in the outcome - and the strong animosity between them. Allen Dulles said little during this discussion of Jenner.

(2) John Armstrong, Harvey and Lee: The Case for Two Oswalds (2003)

Harvey Oswald, doublecrossed and sitting in jail, posed a grave danger. This problem was eliminated when Jack Ruby killed Harvey two days after the assassination. Mortician Paul Groody was asked twice if he noted a mastoid scar on the left side of Oswald's neck or scars near his left elbow. In 1945 Lee Oswald had a mastoidectomy operation at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth. A three-inch mastoid scar was noted on his Marine medical records. In 1957, Lee shot himself in the arm with a .22 Derringer. Yet neither the three-inch mastoid scar nor scars from the bullet wounds were observed by Groody or noted on his 1963 report. Jack Ruby shot Harvey Oswald, who had no such scars.

A few people in the FBI and on the Warren Commission staff knew about the Oswald problem, and how to handle it. The task of acquiring background information on Marguerite and Lee Oswald was assigned to Warren Commission staff attorney John Ely. His report was given to Warren Commission attorney Albert Jenner. Jenner then wrote to Chief Counsel J. Lee Rankin telling him that the background information on Marguerite and Lee Oswald would require material alteration and in some cases, omission. Mr. Ely's original memoranda and notes are missing from the record. Other background information on Marguerite and Lee is missing as well. The New York school and court records and documents relating to Oswald's family history from 1953 are marked "FBI-missing; Liebeler has" indicating that the missing documents were last known to be in Warren Commission Attorney Liebeler's possession. This document shows the "biographical information on Mrs. Oswald and her relatives" has been withheld by the CIA.

Warren Commission members Hale Boggs and Richard Russell were not fooled. They suspected a conspiracy. Boggs expressed his doubts and was advocating a reopening of the investigation. However, before he was able to introduce a bill reopening the case, he and Alaska Senator Nick Begich disappeared on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Hundreds of Coast Guard, military and civilian aircraft searched for weeks, but no trace of the plane was ever found. In early 1964 Richard Russell was very troubled and asked Army Intelligence Colonel Phillip Corso to quietly conduct an investigation into the "Oswald matter." Corso soon reported to Senator Russell that there had been two United States Passports issued to Lee Harvey Oswald, and had been used by two different men. He obtained this information from the head of the U.S. Passport office, Francis Knight. He also reported to Senator Russell there were two birth certificates in the name of Lee Harvey Oswald and they too had been used by two different people. He obtained this information from William Sullivan-head of the FBI's Domestic Intelligence Division. Corso said he and Senator Russell concluded the assassination had been a conspiracy.