Among other things, he said he planned to issue more pardons soon, including possibly one for Muhammad Ali, the boxing legend who was convicted of draft evasion during the Vietnam War but later cleared by the Supreme Court.
While so far he has used his clemency power mainly for celebrities or cases brought to him by celebrities, he said he hoped to use it soon for a wider selection of applicants. “We have 3,000 names,” he said. “We’re looking at them. Of the 3,000 names, many of those names really have been treated unfairly.”
He reflected on his commutation this week of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old drug convict whose case was brought to his attention by Kim Kardashian West. “I would get more thrill out of pardoning people that nobody knows,” he said. “Like Alice yesterday. I thought Kim Kardashian was great because she brought Alice to my attention. Alice was so great. The way she left that jail and the tears and the love that she has with her family, I mean, to me that was better than any celebrity that I can pardon.”
The president said it was too early to talk about pardons for some of his associates caught up in the different investigations now targeting him and his team, but once again insisted that he could pardon himself if he chose to, an assertion debated by legal scholars.
“I’m not above the law,” he said. “I never want anybody to be above the law. But the pardons are a very positive thing for a president. I think you see the way I’m using them. And yes, I do have an absolute right to pardon myself. But I’ll never have to do it because I didn’t do anything wrong. And everybody knows it.”
He also came to the defense of Scott Pruitt, his embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, although he did not rule out replacing him. Mr. Pruitt has come under fire even from some Republicans for living in a condominium tied to a lobbyist, flying first class, surrounding himself with a large security contingent and using E.P.A. staff to conduct personal business for him.