Donald Trump is about to embark on what might be his most important overseas trip to date. His first stop will be the G7 summit in Quebec, where tensions are high with this country’s most significant allies. Then he heads to Singapore for his meeting with Kim Jong-un.
As he left the White House, the president talked about his latest obsession: pardons.
Trump suggests he will pardon Muhammad Ali, who was convicted in 1967 for his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War, which Trump avoided with five draft deferments. Then Trump says he has an "absolute right to pardon myself." pic.twitter.com/LBVTmlMsTp
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 8, 2018
Notice that, as an introduction to the idea of granting a pardon to Muhammad Ali, Trump talked a lot about his popularity (or lack thereof back in the late 60s). That’s a clue as to how this president goes about making decisions on pardons. All that matters to him is crowd appeal, so that becomes the defining factor.
It’s obvious that neither Trump nor those working with him on these pardons spends any actual time looking into history or the facts surrounding the situation of those he decides to pardon. He mentioned that they’re doing “recommendations” on Muhammad Ali and you have to wonder whether anyone along the way will notice that the deceased boxer doesn’t need a pardon.
Back in 1966, Ali refused to serve and filed as a conscientious objector. That status was rejected by his local draft board and he was eventually convicted of a felony. But he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed the conviction in 1971. If that wasn’t enough, on his second day in office President Jimmy Carter issued a blanket pardon to anyone who evaded the draft.
Ali’s attorney Ron Tweel issued a simple statement saying, “thanks, but no thanks.”
— Tre Ward (@TreWardWLKY) June 8, 2018
Obviously the recommendation Trump referred to as being “in process” didn’t involve the White House reaching out to Ali’s family or lawyer.
In the scheme of things, this isn’t a big deal. But on the day that the president leaves for a trip that includes negotiations about nuclear weapons with North Korea (for which he is completely unprepared), it is a prime example about why he fails to engender any confidence in those efforts. He’s an idiot!