President Donald Trump has a recommendation on his desk for pardoning the late legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali, and he said he's seriously considering it. "I'm thinking about that very seriously and some others", Trump said, while speaking to reporters at the White House before departing for the Group of Seven summit.
Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, was convicted in 1967 of dodging the USA draft during the War in Vietnam.
A pardon of Ali would be purely symbolic: The Supreme Court overturned the conviction in a unanimous decision in 1971.
In his comments Friday, Trump said he was looking at a list of what he described as 3,000 names of people who could be pardoned because "some folks that have sentences that aren't fair". "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.
Analysts believe Trump's newfound enthusiasm for exercising pardoning power is because it's a presidential privilege unchecked by other branches of government, which can not be said of most of Trump's other policies. After refusing to serve, he was stripped of his boxing titles and did not fight for three years while he appealed, until his conviction was quashed. Last week, Kardashian met with Trump to seek a pardon for the mother of five.
It's unclear whom exactly Trump was referring to, but his commutation of 63-year-old Alice Johnson on Wednesday prompted speculation that Trump could commute the sentences of similar offenders convicted of non-violent drug offenses, who were given lengthy prison terms under harsh drug sentencing popularized during the 1980s and 90s.
Ironically, the pardon would come after Trump has spent months railing against other black athletes using their platforms for protest: The NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1971.
But there's a little problem with offering to pardon Muhammad Ali: he doesn't actually need a pardon.
Earlier this week, a White House official reportedly called pardons the president's new "favorite thing" to discuss and the billionaire is reportedly "obsessed" with them. He called pardoning power "a handsome thing", and may be considering as many as 3,000 pardons, Fox News reports.
"I'm thinking about somebody that you all know very well". "If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow".
Trump's musing about an Ali pardon was blasted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who accused the president of "nothing more than grandstanding".