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Kim Kardashian West Meets in White House to Talk Prison Reform

Glenn Fleishman
Kim Kardashian West Meets in White House to Talk Prison Reform

Kim Kardashian West may be best known for her reality television series or her massively successful fashion and app businesses. But the media-savvy celebrity has her sights focused on a decidedly unsexy topic: prison reform. On Wednesday, she met with senior Trump administration aides about clemency and prison reform. The meeting reportedly included Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser.

In May, Kardashian West met in the Oval Office with President Donald Trump to press the case of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence in prison since 1997 for a nonviolent drug offense that was a first offense. Kardashian West had learned of Johnson’s situation from an online documentary and had her own lawyers working to get Johnson released. A month later, Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence.

The White House meeting today included an ideological spectrum of participants from CNN commentator Van Jones—who is also a human rights and environmental advocate—to the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, who has helped steer the current administration’s Supreme Court picks. Kushner’s interest may stem from the guilty pleas in 2004 to 18 criminal charges that included tax evasion and witness tampering. (He received a two-year sentence as part of a plea bargain negotiation by then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie.)

A White House spokesperson said the meeting was aimed at improving the way in which deserving cases could receive a fair review for pardon and commutation.

Kardashian West allied herself at the time of the Trump meeting with #cut50, an initiative to reduce incarceration that is part of Jones’s Dream Corps. She said in a statement in May released by that group, “When I looked at Alice, I said we can’t just stop with one person. We have to change the laws.”

Trump positioned himself as tough on crime, speaking on the campaign trail and once in office about harsher treatment of suspects, longer sentences, and the increased use of the death penalty for drug dealers. While Johnson wasn’t convicted of dealing, she was found guilty of drug conspiracy for acting as an intermediary.

Other pardons from Trump have included Dinesh D’Souza, a right-wing commentator and filmmaker, who pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance law violations in 2014, and Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, convicted for criminal contempt of court when he didn’t stop policing practices alleged to have racial, ethnic, and immigration-status bias.