Reality star and new prison reform advocate Kim Kardashian West arrived at the White House just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, to meet with President Trump at the prompting of Jared Kushner. On the agenda: a mutual desire to reform America's criminal justice system.
Is this news?
Actually, yes. In addition to other eye-opening convictions that she's brought to light, Kardashian West wanted to meet in person with President Trump to discuss her previous pleas that he pardon federal prisoner Alice Johnson. Kardashian West learned of Johnson's plight when the prisoner was profiled by Mic, a site dedicated almost entirely to left-leaning initiatives.
Alice Marie Johnson is a 62-year-old great-grandmother who has served 21 years in prison for a first-time, non-violent drug offense.
In a compelling opinion piece published by CNN on May 3, Johnson praised Kardashian and Kushner for coming "together to shine a spotlight on (her) case," saying, "I can only thank God, for he works in mysterious ways."
She said in the Mic video, "When I lost my job, I struggled financially. I made one of the worst decisions of my life to make some quick money — I became involved in a drug conspiracy."
Prison staffers even wrote letters about her accomplishments and clean record during the time Johnson has served.
After being denied clemency three times by President Obama, Johnson is encouraged that President Trump's administration will take another look at her case, saying that "under President Trump, Jared Kushner and others have worked to keep clemency and criminal justice reform in the foreground."
But Johnson also says, "I want this to be clear: I acknowledge that I have done wrong." Johnson is serving a sentence of life in prison. In the meantime, she's been "missing out on life," as Kardashian West said.
How did Kushner get involved?
Jared Kushner vowed to tackle prison reform from the onset of Trump taking office. Kushner's father, Charles, was charged with tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering, which landed him in a prison camp for over a year in 2005 and 2006.
Since then, Kushner has worked vehemently to get bi-partisan support for changing the system his father had been through.
Earlier this month, Kushner said: "If we can start showing that we can make the prisons more purposeful and more effective at lowering the recidivism rate over time, that may help the people who are trying to make the argument for sentencing reform."
In response to such an initiative, President Trump tweeted, "Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it."
Congress has already made progress with the House's passing of the FIRST STEP Act of 2018, which includes an array of measures designed to provide more rehabilitation of inmates such as job training and other educational programs.
What's the response?
Kardashian West has already taken heat for even making the trek to meet with Trump officials, being mocked from the left for not only daring to enter the White House — but for not being an "expert" on her cause.
Reacting to the prospect of criticism prior to her Oval Office meeting, Kardashian West told Mic, "For me, I'm just focused on criminal justice reform, and helping one person at a time. And so far, the White House has been really receptive to my calls and I'm grateful for that and I'm not going to stop that (just) because (some) people personally don't like Trump."
President Trump acknowledged the meeting with Kardashian West on Twitter, saying, "Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing."
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018