US President Donald Trump said on Friday he is considering pardoning some 3,000 people, including the late boxing champion Muhammad Ali, whose conviction for refusing to join the US military during the Vietnam War was later vacated by the US Supreme Court.
Trump said he was thinking “very seriously” about granting clemency for Ali, adding that his administration is already “doing recommendations” on the late boxer.
“I am thinking about Muhammad Ali,” Trump told reporters at the White House shortly before a departure to the Group of Seven summit in Quebec City.
“He was not very popular then, his memory is very popular now,” Trump said. “I’m thinking about that very seriously.”
A pardon for Ali would mark the second deceased boxer to be granted executive clemency under Trump.
Last month, Trump pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, who was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating a law prohibiting the transport of women across state lines for “immoral” purposes. Johnson died in 1946.
Ali was convicted in 1967 on charges of draft evasion and was stripped of his heavyweight champion belt. A convert to Islam, Muhammad Ali cited his religious convictions for his refusal to serve in the U.S. Army.
The Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction in 1971 — a fact that was pointed out in a statement from lawyer Ron Tweel, who represented Ali and his family members since 1986.
“We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971. There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed,” Tweel said in a statement.
Trump told reporters on Friday that “there will be more pardons,” before revealing his consideration Ali as a potential candidate for clemency.
He also said his administration is looking at “3,000 names” that could be eligible for executive clemency.
“You do not want to give Jeff Bezos a seven-year head start.”
“That’s what I want to do. We have 3,000 names, we are looking at them. Of the 3,000 names, many of those names really have been treated unfairly. This is a group of 3,000 we have assembled,” Trump said.