Trump says he's thinking 'very seriously' about pardoning Muhammad Ali, whose attorney says would be 'unnecessary'

  • President Donald Trump said Friday he was considering pardoning the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
  • He added that he was thinking about pardoning “some others,” including people who “have sentences that aren’t very fair.”
  • He said he has a list of 3,000 potential names who are being considered for clemency.

President Donald Trump said Friday he was thinking “very seriously” about pardoning the late boxing champion Muhammed Ali, who refused to be inducted into the army during the Vietnam War and whose conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1971.

“Look, he was not very popular then. Certainly his memory is very popular now. I’m thinking about Muhammed Ali,” Trump told reporters on the south lawn of the White House. “I’m thinking about that very seriously.”

Ali’s attorney Ron Tweel said in a statement Friday morning that Trump’s pardon wasn’t needed, due to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Ali’s conviction.

“We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary,” Tweel said. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

Trump has ramped up the use of his executive clemency power in recent weeks, granting pardons to the late heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson and the conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza, then commuting the sentence of 63-year-old Alice Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for drug offenses.

Trump also said he was thinking about granting clemency to “some others,” adding that he has a list of 3,000 potential names. Those under consideration include “folks that have sentences that aren’t very fair,” Trump said.

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 popularised during the 1980s and 90s.

“There will be more pardons,” Trump said. “I thought Alice yesterday was beautiful. I thought Jack Johnson – which was recommended by Sylvester Stallone and some great boxers – I thought Jack Johnson was a great one.”

Trump has also previously floated pardoning Martha Stewart and a commuting the 14-year sentence for ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

In response to one reporter’s question, Trump also confirmed that one name not on his list for potential pardons was O.J. Simpson, the former football star who was released on parole last year after serving nine years in prison.

“No, I’m not thinking of O.J. Only you could say O.J.,” Trump said.

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