Trump Reviewing 3,000 Pardons, Including Muhammad Ali

U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House June 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is traveling to Canada to attend the G7 summit before heading to Singapore on Saturday for a planned U.S.-North Korea summit.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters that he has every intention of using his pardoning power to its fullest extent, suggesting again that he has the power to pardon himself — “But I’ll never have to do it.”

Trump said he is considering “thousands” of pardon applications — about 3,000 in total — including heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali, who died in 2016.

There will be more pardons. I thought Alice yesterday was beautiful. … I’m thinking about somebody that you all know very well and he went though a lot,” he said. “His memory is very popular now, I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali. I’m thinking about that seriously. And some others and some folks who have sentences that aren’t fair.”

Ali was convicted of draft evasion and lost his heavyweight champion title in 1967. But in 1971, the Supreme Court overturned his conviction and President Jimmy Carter pardoned all those accused of draft evasion during the Vietnam War in 1977.

Ali’s attorney on Friday said the sentiment was appreciated, but a posthumous pardon was “unnecessary.”

Trump has reportedly become increasingly “obsessed” with pardons and enjoys talking about potential pardons with aides, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. On Wednesday, CNN reported that the White House was preparing paperwork for at least 30 new pardons, which included a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother serving a life-sentence in prison for a non-violent drug crime. Kim Kardashian visited the White House last week to ask Trump to consider pardoning Johnson. The White House announced it had pardoned Johnson later Wednesday.

For Trump, Kardashian’s support of Johnson was key, given the President’s penchant for considering the pardoning of celebrities like Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, also a former TV personality. Since taking office, Trump has pardoned or issued commutations for Johnson; conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza; boxing champion Jack Johnson; former Bush administration official Scooter Libby; former Navy sailor Kristian Saucier; meat-packing executive Sholom Rubashkin; and former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. 

Trump later told reporters that he wants to try to amend his feud with athletes who kneel during the National Anthem by meeting them half-way. He said he wants the athletes to tell him who they think has been treated unfairly by the justice system and he would consider pardoning them.

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