President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he was considering granting a posthumous pardon to the late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
The offer prompted a lawyer for his estate and family to reject the offer because the boxing great already had his criminal conviction overturned by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago.
Trump, who has issued several pardons and commutations in recent weeks, told White House reporters that he was “thinking about Muhammad Ali,” for a pardon shortly before a departure for the G-7 summit in Quebec City, Canada.
“He was not very popular then, his memory is very popular now,” Trump said. “I’m thinking about that very seriously.”
“The pardons are a very positive things for a president,” Trump added. “The power to pardon is a beautiful thing.”
“We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary,” Ali attorney Ron Tweel told local news station WHAS 11. “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.”
Pres. Trump considering additional pardons, including late boxing icon Muhammad Ali: "I'm thinking about that very seriously, and some others… but I am thinking about Muhammad Ali." https://t.co/mbXMW7xJ7B pic.twitter.com/QyUERMSQ1a
— ABC News (@ABC) June 8, 2018
Ali, who died in 2016, was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison and stripped of his heavyweight boxing title after he refused, in 1967, to report for induction to fight in the Vietnam War, declaring himself a conscientious objector and citing his Muslim faith.
Ali appealed his conviction, allowing him to remain out of prison, and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1971 in a unanimous decision that found the Department of Justice had improperly told the draft board that Ali’s stance wasn’t motivated by religious belief.