Trump told reporters Friday that he plans to pardon the late boxer Muhammad Ali, to which Ali’s lawyer replied by informing the president that a pardon is “unnecessary.” Ali’s conviction for draft evasion was overturned fifty years ago by the Supreme Court, so Trump’s strategy to hide his racism behind this pardon was laughable.
Trump’s comments are more than just ill-informed and embarrassing—they’re also getting a lot of backlash in light of the recent actions taken with the NFL. Apparently Trump wishes to pardon an African-American athlete who reportedly refused to go to the draft due to his frustration with racism in America. However, Trump has viciously fought back against modern American athletes who are currently protesting racism and police brutality in America. Trump’s comments seem to be an attempt to mask the fact that he is completely prejudiced, and a distraction from his actions toward the NFL players and their free speech. He clearly didn’t check his facts close enough, if at all, before making the statement.
Trump commented today that he was looking at a list of 3,000 names of citizens who he wanted to pardon because apparently pardoning people is his new power play. He stated he would consider pardoning “some folks that have sentences that aren’t fair.” Ali’s lawyer Ron Tweel told CNN that Trump’s comment concerning the pardoning of Ali came completely “out of the blue.” Tweel said, “So, it’s not like for weeks or days the administration has reached out to the Ali family. None of that. This was all spontaneous and I think, as a lot of people like to say, impulsive.” However, Tweel was polite when he informed Trump that he appreciated the thought but a pardon is “unnecessary.”
Ali was convicted of draft evasion in 1967. Despite failing Army aptitude tests twice, he was still drafted to serve in Vietnam because the Selective Service lessened its qualifications. Ali refused because of his religious beliefs, and his heavyweight championship titles and boxing licenses were stripped from him. He appealed and the case made its way up the ladder to the Supreme Court, where he won the case in a 8-to-10 vote in 1971. Ali was completely free of his conviction and to top it off, in 1977, President Jimmy Carter issued a “full, complete and unconditional pardon” for the majority of men who evaded the draft. Ali hasn’t needed a pardon for fifty years, and even if he did, we can’t imagine he’d want one from Trump.