President Trump, who received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, said on Friday that he is considering issuing a pardon to legendary boxer and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali, whose conviction for refusing to be inducted was already overturned by the Supreme Court more than four decades ago.
Trump did not elaborate on why he might pardon for Ali. He told reporters on Friday that he is thinking about pardoning someone who is “not very popular... I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali,” according to a pool report of the president’s remarks. (Ali, who was widely praised as one of the most admired athletes in history when he died in 2016, has previously received presidential medals from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.)
A spokesman for the American Legion said the group had no position regarding Ali.
In 1967, Ali was sentenced to five years in prison for evading the draft. "I aint got no quarrel with them Viet Cong," the boxer told reporters at the time. Ali was also banned from boxing for three years and lost his heavyweight title.
Ali did not serve any prison time. In June 1971, the Supreme Court ruled that the Justice Department was wrong when it recommended that Ali did not meet the requirements to be classified as a conscientious objector.
“It is indisputably clear, for the reasons stated, that the department was simply wrong as a matter of law in advising that the petitioner's beliefs were not religiously based and were not sincerely held,” the court ruled.
An attorney for Ali's estate, Ron Tweel, told the Louisville Courier Journal that Ali did not need a presidential pardon because “there is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.” Tweel told the newspaper: “We appreciate President Trump's sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary.”
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.