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Hours after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, a jumpy Secret Service agent came within seconds of accidentally shooting new President Lyndon Johnson point-blank in the chest, the agent reveals in a new book.
Standing in the darkness outside Johnson's Washington mansion at 2:15 a.m. on Nov. 23, 1963, agent Gerald Blaine heard footsteps.
"We were still emotionally in shock over the assassination. It had been well over 40 hours since we'd slept.
Blaine had the gun pointed at the man's chest and was about to fire when he recognized the new President.
"I swear he turned white," Blaine recounted. "He had just walked out for a breath of air! He hadn't told anyone. When Kennedy left the house, he would notify the command post."
For a long moment in the shadows, LBJ and the agent looked at each other.
"Then he turned around and went back in the house. He didn't say anything. I think he understood he had no business being out there," Blaine said.
LBJ never mentioned the incident, he said.
Blaine said his book is motivated largely by the "abominable" tangle of misreporting about the assassination.
"I would hate to see history recorded as it's been laid out by the cottage industry of conspiracy theorists," he said. "You'd think there must have been 70 assassins in Dallas that day!"
He also tries to quash the rumor that Kennedy had an affair with Marilyn Monroe.