Trump may eye Ali pardon, though late champ may not need one
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said he is thinking “very seriously” about pardoning Muhammad Ali, even though the Supreme Court vacated the boxing champion’s conviction in 1971.
And for futures acts of clemency, Trump said he may seek the recommendations of pro football players and other athletes who have protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem.
“What I’m going to do is I’m going to say to them, instead of talk — it’s all talk, talk, talk....I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” he said. “I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated, friends of theirs or people that they know about and I’m going to take a look at those applications.”
The president said the athletes have “seen a lot of abuse” and “a lot of unfairness” and that he wants their input on his use of this executive power.
Speaking as he left the White House for a world leaders’ summit in Canada, Trump also that he’s considering thousands of additional pardons, including one for the boxing great.
“I’m thinking about somebody that you all know very well. And he went through a lot. And he wasn’t very popular then,” Trump said. “He certainly, his memory is very popular now.”
It was not immediately clear why Ali would need a pardon because he has no criminal record. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction for resisting the draft in 1971. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about why the president feels one is warranted.
Ali was born Cassius Clay, and changed his name after converting to Islam in the 1960s. He refused to serve in the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs, declaring himself a conscientious objector, and saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong.”
Ali was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967. Ali’s legal fight ended in 1971, when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. He regained the boxing title in 1974. Ali died in 2016.