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President Trump moots draft dodging pardon

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US President Donald Trump says he may pardon boxing legend Muhammad Ali for a draft-dodging conviction, even though it has already been quashed. Mr Trump told reporters before he left the White House for the G7 summit that he was “thinking about Muhammad Ali” and some others “very seriously”. Ali was convicted in 1967 after refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, but this was overturned in 1971. Analysts say such a move would be a purely symbolic gesture.

“I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali. I’m thinking about that very seriously and some others,” the president reportedly said.Ali is also covered by the blanket amnesty granted to draft dodgers by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Mr Trump reportedly said Muhammad Ali was one of 3,000 people he was considering pardoning, saying many of these people “have been treated unfairly”. Mr Trump’s comments follow his pardon of conservative political commentator and author Dinesh D’Souza, and his granting of clemency to Alice Johnson after lobbying by Kim Kardashian West.

The president has recently mooted pardons for lifestyle personality Martha Stewart and former governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich. Mr Trump also recently said he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself in the Russia inquiry, although he insists he has done nothing wrong. The president has expressed admiration for Muhammad Ali before. He has posted on Instagram a photo of himself meeting Ali at a past event.

When he died, Mr Trump called him “a truly great champion and a wonderful guy” in a tweet. Ali famously declared he “ain’t got nothing against no Viet Cong” after he was reclassified as eligible for service. After refusing to serve, he was stripped of his boxing titles and did not fight for three years while he appealed, until his conviction was quashed by the US Supreme Court. President Jimmy Carter also offered a blanket pardon in 1977 for any draft dodger who requested one.

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