Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump says he may pardon Muhammad Ali for draft evasion

Trump says he may pardon Muhammad Ali for draft evasion

It was not immediately clear why Trump cited Ali as in need of a pardon, given that Ali has no criminal record.

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out the conviction four years later, so it's unclear why President Trump would offer a pardon to the former heavyweight and Olympic champ Muhammad Ali.

Ali's attorney, Ron Tweel, responded to the president's gesture in a statement Friday. "There is no conviction for which a pardon is needed".

Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., is one of the most celebrated athletes in USA history.

Mr Ali, who died in 2016, was convicted for draft dodging in 1967 after refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. He later appealed that conviction to the Supreme Court, which ruled he was entitled to conscientious objector status and overturned the conviction in an 8-0 decision.

Ali eventually became licensed again, however, and he went on to have a storied boxing career that lasted until 1981.

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Trump made the freakish offer regarding the iconic boxer - who died in 2016 - Friday - only to be shot down by Ali's estate soon afterwards. That law made it illegal to transport women across state lines for "immoral" purposes.

On departure to a G7 summit in Canada, Trump said he was mulling almost 3,000 pardons, including a posthumous pardon for boxing legend Muhammad Ali, but not for himself.

"We have 3,000 names".

He said he had been in contact with the widow after Trump's comments and they chose to issue a statement on behalf of the family.

"This was quite a surprise to everybody this morning when we heard about it", he said Friday during a phone interview. In a unanimous ruling, the court found that the Department of Justice had improperly told the draft board that Ali's stance was not motivated by his Muslim religious beliefs.

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. Next he talked about clemency for Martha Stewart, an old friend, and a sentence reduction for corrupt former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Johnson was reunited with her family after 22 years in prison.

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