President Donald Trump worked overtime to stay at top of the news cycle this morning, announcing he might pardon Muhammad Ali, revealing details of his wife’s surgery, and arguing to return Russia to the G-7 summit.
Trump clearly pleased with the publicity he’s gained with his recent celebrity pardons, made a point this morning of informing reporters he’s got more up his sleeve.
Talking today to a gaggle on the White House lawn as he headed to the G-7 summit, Trump said “I’m thinking about Muhammad Ali,” on that list of around 30 possible presidential pardons he’s prepared. The existence of the list was reported shortly after Trump pardoned a grandmother serving a life sentence whose cause Kim Kardiahian West had championed.
Boxing great and civil rights activist Ali died two years ago this month. Ali lawyer Ron Tweel responded quickly to Trump’s news with a thanks-but-no-thanks” message:
“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.”
Celebrity pardons have been a bright shiny light for Trump of late, though the real estate developer turned reality TV star has long snuggled up to celebrities. Last month Sylvester Stallone came to the White House to be in on Trump’s pardoning of boxing great Jack Johnson, the country’s first black heavyweight boxing champion, who had been convicted in 1913, under the Mann Act, of transporting a white woman across state lines.
Last week, nearly a decade after complaining about the casting of Khloe Kardashian on his Celebrity Apprentice reality TV series instead of her “hot” sister, Kim visited the White House to make the case for pardoning grandmother Alice Johnson, who was serving a life sentence on drug offenses.
Responding to a question about the First Lady, Trump said, “The First Lady is great! Right there!” as he pointed to the White House.
Trump said she wanted to accompany him on his trip but “she can’t fly for one month. The doctors said so. She had a big operation – close to a four-hour operation. She’s doing great and she is a great First Lady.”
And, though the U.S led the charge to impose penalty on Russia over acts of aggression including annexation of Crimea, when Russia was dumped from G-8, Trump argued this morning to let Russia back in.
“We have a world to run,” Trump said. “And in the G-7, which used to be a G-8, they threw Russia out…They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
In making that announcement Trump described himself, and not facetiously, as “Russia’s worst nightmare.”