Trump says he’s considering pardon for Muhammad Ali, who doesn’t need one

President Donald Trump said Friday he was considering granting a posthumous pardon for Muhammad Ali — prompting a lawyer for his estate and family to say thanks, but no thanks: The boxing great had his criminal conviction overturned by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago.

Trump, who has issued several pardons and commutations in recent weeks, told reporters that he was “thinking about Muhammad Ali,” for a pardon.

“He was not very popular then, his memory is very popular now,” Trump said at the White House shortly before a departure for the G-7 summit in Quebec City, Canada. “I’m thinking about that very seriously.”

Not long after, an attorney for Ali’s estate and family responded, saying that a pardon wouldn’t be necessary.

“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,” Ron Tweel, who has represented Ali and his family since 1986, told NBC News. “There is no conviction from which a pardon is needed.”

But even though there is no Ali conviction on the books — the usual reason for a pardon — former DOJ pardon attorneys say it’s too limited to think of a pardon as simply a conviction eraser.

“A pardon is an act of forgiveness,” says former pardon attorney Samuel Morrison. “The pardon is for the conduct, regardless of whether there was or still is a conviction.”

For example, In 1977, President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty, which is a pardon for a group, to all Vietnam-era draft evaders, many of whom had never been convicted.

Ali, who died in 2016, was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison and stripped of his heavyweight boxing title after he refused, in 1967, to report for induction to fight in the Vietnam War, declaring himself a conscientious objector and citing his Muslim faith.

Ali appealed his conviction, allowing him to remain out of prison, and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1971 in a unanimous decision that found the Department of Justice had improperly told the draft board that Ali’s stance wasn’t motivated by religious belief.

Even as his health declined, Ali did not shy from politics — or from criticizing Trump. In December 2015, he released a statement slamming then-candidate Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” Ali said.

Meanwhile, Trump, who recently pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champ, also said that he has a list of several thousand other names that he is reviewing for potential pardons.

Trump added that he was “looking at literally thousands of names.”

Trump has issued several pardons and commutations so far in his presidency.

In addition to his posthumous pardon last month of Johnson, the African-American boxing legend who was convicted under a law that was used as a deterrent to interracial dating, Trump has also issued pardons to conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to violating campaign finance laws; Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff who is a favorite of immigration hard-liners; I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of obstructing justice and lying to authorities during an investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame; and Kristian Mark Saucier, a Navy sailor who took photos of classified areas inside a nuclear submarine.

On Wednesday, Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving life in prison on drug charges, after reality star Kim Kardashian West lobbied the president in an Oval Office meeting to intervene on her behalf.

Trump has also hinted at pardoning lifestyle and home merchandise mogul Martha Stewart, who was convicted in 2004 on charges related to insider stock trading, and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was sentenced in 2011 to 14 years in federal prison on corruption charges, including attempting to solicit bribes in exchange for President Barack Obama’s open Senate seat.

[NBC News]

Trump lashes out at ‘unfair’ and ‘vicious’ Melania coverage

President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at recent media coverage of first lady Melania Trump, calling speculation surrounding her whereabouts in the weeks following a kidney surgery “unfair” and “vicious.”

“The Fake News Media has been so unfair, and vicious, to my wife and our great First Lady, Melania,” Trump tweeted.

“During her recovery from surgery they reported everything from near death, to facelift, to left the W.H. (and me) for N.Y. or Virginia, to abuse. All Fake, she is doing really well!”

Trump claimed in another tweet that “four reporters spotted Melania in the White House last week walking merrily along to a meeting” but “they never reported the sighting because it would hurt the sick narrative that she was living in a different part of the world, was really ill, or whatever.”

“Fake News is really bad!” he added.

CNBC reporter Eamon Javers had tweeted on May 30 that he had seen the first lady “walking with her aides in the West Wing” the day prior.

“Not that this will deter the conspiracy theorists, but I saw the First Lady walking with her aides in the West Wing yesterday afternoon,” Javers wrote.

Melania Trump attended a ceremony for Gold Star families on Monday that was closed to the press. It was slated to be her first public appearance since she underwent surgery at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on May 14.

The first lady is slated to appear at a Federal Emergency Management Agency event Wednesday afternoon with the president.

Speculation surrounding the Trump’s whereabouts in the weeks after her surgery has been the subject of several tweets and discussions on cable news.

One Rolling Stone writer speculated that she was “concealing abuse,” and The Atlantic’s David Frum posed a hypothetical about President Trump having “punched the First Lady in the White House.”

CNN also discussed Melania Trump’s whereabouts on its weekly media affairs program “Reliable Sources,” which included a graphic with a calendar of the number of days the first lady was absent.

[The Hill]

Trump’s phone call with Macron described as ‘terrible’

A call about trade and migration between US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron soured last week after Macron candidly criticized Trump’s policies, two sources familiar with the call told CNN.

“Just bad. It was terrible,” one source told CNN. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that.”

A short White House readout of last Thursday’s call said the conversation was focused on trade and immigration.

“Both leaders discussed the migration problem in Libya, and timelines to solve it. President Trump underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe,” the readout states.

The call came the same day the United States announced a unilateral decision to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on American allies, including Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.

In a statement issued by the Elysee Palace ahead of the call, Macron said he “regrets the US decision to confirm tariffs in steel and aluminum.”

“This decision is not only illegal, it is a mistake on many points. It is a mistake because it responds to a worldwide unbalance that exists in the worst ways through fragmentations and economic nationalism,” the statement continued, with Macron adding that “if these kind of things impacted our relations, it would have been the case since day one because he has decided to leave the Paris (climate) agreement.”

“I prefer to say things directly and not through the press; and I will tell him what I told you, which are my convictions that he knows already,” he said in the statement.

Thursday’s strained call is particularly notable because Macron is arguably the European leader to whom Trump is closest. In an interview with the BBC in January, Macron said he had a “very direct relationship” with his US counterpart.

“I’m always extremely direct and frank. He is. Sometimes I manage to convince him, and sometimes I fail,” Macron said at the time.

Trump can expect a similar call from British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, sources tell CNN. It’s not her style to be combative, but one source said May is expected to be direct in her criticisms and that Trump could expect a tough conversation.

[CNN]

Trump Boasts Fox News’ Ratings, Trashes CNN on Twitter: ‘Fake News CNN is Dead!’

It’s no secret that President Trump plays favorites when it comes to his cable news watching.

In the cable news war, Fox News continues to dominate in ratings and has remained the #1 cable news network for 197 consecutive months. Meanwhile CNN saw a 25% decrease in viewership.

Real @FoxNews is doing great, Fake News CNN is dead!” Trump tweeted.

It is worth noting though that instead of attacking the “Failing” New York Times today, Trump seemed to have endorsed some of their reporting as of late. At least on Twitter

[Mediaite]

Trump tears into Canada for treating U.S. farmers ‘very poorly’

President Donald Trump attacked Canada on Friday morning, seemingly offering a defense of the controversial tariffs he imposed this week and accusing America’s northern neighbor of treating U.S. agricultural industries “very poorly.”

“Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time. Highly restrictive on Trade!” the president wrote on Twitter. “They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?”

Trump has made resetting U.S. trade relationships around the globe a key priority for his administration, most notably with China, but also with top U.S. allies and trade partners like Mexico and Canada. He has complained previously about Canada’s treatment of the U.S. lumber and dairy industries, among others.

His attack against Canada came just hours after tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from three key U.S. trade partners — Mexico, Canada and the European Union — went into effect at midnight Friday, after the administration said on Thursday that exemptions would not be extended.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a blistering rebuke to Trump during a news conference on Thursday.

“Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Trudeau said. “Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together.”

The tariffs have proved to be a controversial step that has also drawn the ire of prominent Republicans who have long supported free trade policies.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement that “I disagree with this decision” and that “instead of addressing the real problems in the international trade of these products, today’s action targets America’s allies when we should be working with them.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a regular and outspoken critic of the president’s, said the tariffs were similar to the policies that he said sparked the Great Depression.

“This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” Sasse said. “‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’”

[Politico]

Trump breaks the law and jolts markets by teasing secret jobs numbers

President Donald Trump moved markets and busted norms on Friday morning with a tweet about the May employment report more than an hour before the numbers came out.

The post appeared to skirt strict rules on government employees not commenting on the highly sensitive economic data until an hour after its public release at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

Trump, who received the numbers Thursday night on Air Force One, did not include any of the jobs data in his tweet. But it appeared positive enough to suggest to Wall Street that a good number was coming Friday morning.

“Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning,” the president tweeted at 7:21 a.m.

And the numbers were in fact quite good, showing a better than expected gain of 223,000 jobs and a dip in unemployment to 3.8 percent, the lowest level since April of 2000, sending Dow futures higher.

But markets were already moving before the release and popped immediately after Trump’s tweet, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note moving higher along with stock market futures. The rise in the 10-year yield suggested traders assumed Trump’s tweet meant the jobs number would be strong and push the Fed to raise interest rates more quickly.

Former Obama administration officials pounced on Trump’s tweet even before the public got to see the numbers, saying it violated rules banning federal employees with access to the jobs data from saying anything at all about it until 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

The one-hour lag is meant to allow the jobs data—compiled by non-partisan career employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics—to stand on its own without any immediate spin from elected officials.

“We took the one-hour delay 100 percent seriously,” Jason Furman, who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, said in an interview. “There were times when there was a good number and they wanted to send the president out to talk about it, but Air Force One was scheduled to leave at 9:15 a.m. and we would tell them to delay the flight until after 9:30 a.m.”

Furman suggested Trump should no longer get the numbers in advance.

[Politico]

Trump Implies It’s a Total ‘Double Standard’ That Roseanne Was Fired and Samantha Bee Wasn’t

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Friday, questioning why comedian Samantha Bee hasn’t been fired by TBS for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c***” during a monologue earlier this week Full Frontal with Samantha Bee show.

Trump seemed to suggest it was a “total double standard” that Bee hadn’t been fired when Roseanne Barr’s show was cancelled by ABC following her racist tweet. Barr posted a tweet comparing Valerie Jarrett, a former President Barack Obama adviser, to an ape. “A total double standard but that’s O.K., we are Winning, and will be doing so for a long time to come!” Trump tweeted.

While Trump has not directly addressed Roseanne’s cancellation, he did criticize Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger shortly after ABC axed the show.

On Thursday, Bee apologized to the First Daughter after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called her profane comment “vile and vicious.”

“I would like to sincerely apologize to Ivanka Trump and to my viewers for using an expletive on my show to describe her last night. It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it,” Bee wrote on Twitter.

Shortly after Bee’s apology, TBS issued a statement accepting that it had been a mistake to air the comedian’s words. “Samantha Bee has taken the right action in apologizing for the vile and inappropriate language she used about Ivanka Trump last night. Those words should not have been aired. It was our mistake too, and we regret it,” the statement read.

[TIME]

Trump pressured Sessions multiple times to resume control of Mueller investigation

According to a report at Axios, President Donald Trump pressured Attorney General Jeff Sessions multiple times to back out of his recusal and resume overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s administration.

According to the report, “A source with knowledge of the conversations said they occurred throughout last year, until fairly late in the year — not just in the short period after Sessions recused himself last March.”

Two sources confirmed Trump told Sessions he’d be a “hero” to conservatives if he did the “right thing” and resumed control over the Russia investigation. Additionally, Trump suggested to Sessions he’d be a hero if he launched an investigation of Hillary Clinton.

You can read the whole report here.

[Raw Story]

Trump Responds to Fury Over Roseanne, but Not Her Racist Remarks

President Trump acknowledged on Wednesday the furor over a racist Twitter post made by Roseanne Barr, but focused on an apology issued by ABC instead of the offensive content of the television star’s remarks.

It was unclear what Mr. Trump meant by “horrible statements” on ABC.

It was the first time the president, who previously had called Ms. Barr to congratulate her on the success of her sitcom’s reboot, had weighed in on the fallout over her Twitter post.

But Mr. Trump did not acknowledge the specifics of what Ms. Barr wrote, and later deleted on Tuesday, in reference to Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Ms. Jarrett said on Tuesday that Robert A. Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ABC’s corporate parent, had personally called her to apologize for the Twitter post before it was publicly announced that Ms. Barr’s sitcom had been canceled.

Ms. Barr has been vocal in her support of Mr. Trump and wanted the revival of her eponymous sitcom to address some of the divisive political issues facing the United States. In the aftermath of her show’s cancellation, she has since apologized, blaming the Twitter posts in part on medication.

In another Twitter post that has since been deleted, Ms. Barr asked her supporters to not defend her comments. “It was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien tweeting-it was memorial day too-i went 2 far & do not want it defended-it was egregious Indefensible,” she wrote.

The makers of Ambien, a sleep aid, immediately pushed back on Ms. Barr’s excuse.

“People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world,” the company, Sanofi U.S., said on Twitter. “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

[The New York Times]

Trump on Memorial Day: Those who died for US ‘would be very happy’ with how country is doing

President Trump marked Memorial Day in a tweet on Monday claiming that the nation’s fallen heroes “would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today.”

“Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more.” Trump tweeted. “Nice!”

Memorial Day is held annually to honor service members who died for the U.S.

Trump had tweeted a video in honor of the holiday earlier Monday.

The president is scheduled to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery later Monday morning.

He has often used Twitter to brag about the state of the economy under his administration. The black and Hispanic unemployment rates both reached record lows last month, according to statistics from the Department of Labor.

[The Hill]

Reality

Black unemployment rate:

Hispanic unemployment rate:

1 2 3 4 6