President Donald Trump on Friday said he has "very seriously" considered pardoning the late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali among many others who have been given "unfair" sentences.
Prior to departing from the White House for the G7 Summit in Canada, Trump held an impromptu press conference outside the White House where he was asked whether he would be granting more pardons.
"There will be more pardons," Trump said. "I thought Alice [Marie Johnson] yesterday was beautiful. I thought Jack Johnson, which was recommended by Sylvester Stallone and some great boxers – I thought Jack Johnson was a great one. I'm thinking about somebody that you all know very well."
A reporter then inquired whether the person Trump was talking about was O.J. Simpson, prompting Trump to quip, "No, I'm not talking about O.J … Only you could say O.J."
"I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that very seriously and some others. I'm thinking about some folks that have sentences that aren't fair, but I am thinking about Muhammad Ali," Trump said.
Ali's lawyer responded to Trump's consideration of posthumously pardoning him by saying it was "unnecessary."
"We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary," attorney Ron Tweel told local news station WHAS 11. "The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali unanimously in 1971. There is no conviction for which a pardon is needed."
Ali, who died in 2016, was convicted of draft evasion in 1967 and sentenced to five years in prison after he refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War, citing his Muslim faith. Ali was able to avoid prison and had the charges dismissed after he appealed his conviction. His defense argued the Department of Justice had improperly told the draft board Ali's opposition to the draft wasn't motivated by his Muslim beliefs. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1971 in an unanimous decision.
Trump said he is "looking at literally thousands of names" to pardon.