Trump continues to make a joke of the pardon process.
Confirming that he has largely made a joke of presidential powers, and has stopped listening to professionals in the Department of Justice, Trump on Friday suggested he might pardon legendary boxer and civil rights icon Muhammad Ali, who passed away in 2016.
"The power to pardon is a beautiful thing," Trump stressed on Friday morning. "You got to get it right. You got to get the right people. I am looking at Muhammad Ali."
What Trump is clueless about is the fact that Ali doesn't need a posthumous pardon, because the only crime he was convicted of — refusing to serve in the Vietnam War — was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court:
Statement from Muhammad Ali's attorney: “We appreciate President Trump’s sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary. 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.” https://t.co/cjINhKFLSJ
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) June 8, 2018
It's just the latest example of how uniformed Trump is about the world at large, and how little thought he puts into using his presidential powers.
Trump has made headlines for his unusual pardons, some of which been both baffling (racist Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio), and offensive, like last week's move to troll liberals by pardoning right-wing commentator Dinesh D'Souza. (This was after D'Souza had pleaded guilty to his crime.)
There's rising concern that by playing loose with the pardon powers, Trump is getting ready to overturn any possible convictions his associates might face in connection with the unfolding Russia scandal.
Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has even claimed that Trump can pardon himself.
Meanwhile, all precedent for the process has been discarded. "None of these pardons has gone through the vetting process and gone through the pardoning attorneys at the Department of Justice," Duke Law School professor Lisa Kern Griffin recently told Rolling Stone. "These have all been cases in which the White House has circumvented the conventional procedures and norms about pardons."
It's gotten to the point where this week, the fiancé of a former Trump campaign aide appeared on Fox News and directly appealed to Trump to pardon her husband, who has already pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators.
What makes Trump's Ali pardon talk so bizarre is that no one has been lobbying on Ali's behalf for an act of mercy, since as Ali's attorney notes, the former boxer doesn’t need a pardon.
Where did Trump even get the idea that one of the most famous black athletes in American history was in trouble with the law?
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.