WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump says he may pardon another late heavyweight boxing champion — this time, Muhammad Ali.
Trump told reporters as he left for the G7 summit in Canada that he’s looking at “thousands of names” of people who could be granted clemency.
“The power to pardon is a beautiful thing,” Trump said. “You got to get it right. You got to get the right people.”
Ali was convicted in 1967 after refusing military service in Vietnam. Trump said he was “thinking about Muhammad Ali and some others.”
“I’m thinking about somebody that you all know very well. And he went through a lot. And he wasn’t very popular then,” Trump said. “He certainly, his memory is very popular now.”
It was not immediately clear why Ali would need a pardon because he has no criminal record. The Supreme Court overturned his conviction for resisting the draft in 1971. The White House did not immediately respond to questions about why the president feels one is warranted.
Ali was born Cassius Clay, and changed his name after converting to Islam in the 1960s. He refused to serve in the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs, declaring himself a conscientious objector, and saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with the Viet Cong.”
Ali was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967. Ali’s legal fight ended in 1971 when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor. He regained the boxing title in 1974. Ali died in 2016.
Trump has been on a clemency kick and earlier this week commuted the life sentence of a woman whose cause was championed by reality television star Kim Kardashian West.
Last month, he granted a posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, more than 100 years after many saw as his racially charged conviction.
Trump told reporters Friday his team is “looking at literally thousands of names” of people who have come to their attention because they’ve been treated unfairly or their sentences are too long.
“We have 3,000 names. We’re looking at them,” Trump said.
He did not offer any other names, but said in response to a reporter’s question that O.J. Simpson wasn’t on the list.
The president has said he’s considering commuting the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving 14 years in prison for corruption, and pardoning celebrity homemaker Martha Stewart, who served about five months on charges connected to an insider trading case.
In his first use of that power, Trump spared a former Arizona sheriff, Joe Arpaio, the prospect of serving jail time after a conviction stemming from his use of immigration patrols that focused on Latinos.
Last year, the president commuted the sentence of an Iowa kosher meatpacking executive who had been sentenced to 27 years in prison for money laundering. In March, he pardoned a U.S. Navy sailor who served a year in federal prison after taking photos of classified portions of a submarine.
In April, Trump issued a full pardon in April to I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of lying to investigators and obstruction of justice following the 2003 leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
And Trump recently pardoned conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of a campaign finance violation.
The president also said he has every right to pardon himself, but will never have to do it because he says he didn’t do anything wrong in the Russia investigation.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)