President Trump floats pardoning boxing great Muhammad Ali of conviction overturned nearly 50 years ago - MRCAESAR.COM


Friday, 8 June 2018

President Trump floats pardoning boxing great Muhammad Ali of conviction overturned nearly 50 years ago

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President Trump said he may pardon deceased boxing great Muhammad Ali. (/ AP)
President Trump may grant a potentially pointless pardon to the “Greatest of All Time.”
Trump, who has already commuted the sentences of six people since taking office 16 months ago, mentioned in passing Friday that he’s considering pardoning boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
“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 as he left the White House en route to the G7 summit in Canada. “His memory is very popular now. I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that seriously.”
But it’s unclear what exactly Trump would be pardoning Ali for, considering his conviction for dodging conscription during the Vietnam War was overturned.
In 1967, shortly after converting to Islam, Ali refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army. He was stripped of his heavyweight title and convicted of draft evasion. After appealing, his conviction was overturned in 1971 by the Supreme Court.
“We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary,” Ali’s longtime lawyer and friend Ron Tweel said in a statement. “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.”
Ali died two years ago after a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Rev. Al Sharpton scoffed at Trump’s proposed posthumous pardon, calling it “nothing more than grandstanding.”
“Muhammad Ali’s conviction, which was overturned in 1971, was based upon his beliefs and his religion and Trump can begin honoring his memory by stopping engaging in anti-Muslim and Islamophobic policies and rhetoric,” Sharpton said. “You can’t stand up for Islam while simultaneously denigrating it.”
Trump received five military draft deferments during the Vietnam War, including one medical deferment after he was diagnosed with bone spurs in his foot.
The improbable pardon offered to Ali follows a string of similar moves by the President.
Last month, Trump posthumously pardoned pugilist Jack Johnson, the country's first African-American heavyweight champion.
The pardon stemmed from the President's friendship with Sylvester Stallone, who famously portrayed the fictional fighter Rocky Balboa.
Trump has also floated the idea of pardoning disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and lifestyle maven Martha Stewart. Blagojevich’s attorneys filed an official request Wednesday asking Trump to commute his 14-year sentence on corruption charges.
President Trump has issued more than half a dozen pardons during his first term in the White House. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)
Most Presidents wait until the end of their terms to issue pardons, but Trump has made a habit out of it.
Last week, Trump pardoned conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to campaign finance violations.
Earlier this week, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson, a woman serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense whose cause was championed last week by Kim Kardashian West during a visit to the Oval Office. Johnson, 63, was convicted and sentenced to life without parole in 1996 for her role in a cocaine-trafficking operation in Tennessee.
The flurry of pardons has some critics concerned that Trump will use his executive power to influence special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin ahead of the 2016 presidential contest.
Trump said he “haven't even thought about” the possibility of pardoning his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort or personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
‪"I haven't even thought about it," Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn, referring to Manafort and Cohen. "I haven't thought about any of it. It's certainly far too early to be thinking about that."
He added, "They haven't been convicted of anything. There's nothing to pardon."
Trump was also asked if he was considering pardoning former football star O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, but was convicted in 2008 of kidnapping and armed robbery for his role in a Las Vegas break in.
“No, I’m not talking about O.J.,” Trump said.
However, Trump said he may seek the counsel of current 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, who has spent months attacking players who protested during the anthem, said 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.
Earlier in the week, Trump disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from a White House celebration after learning many would not attend in protest.
Last year, Trump encouraged NFL owners to fire protesting players.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,” he said at a political rally. “Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
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