A 63-year-old grandmother serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug crime could soon be pardoned by the president. The Washington Post reported that insiders familiar with the situation said President Donald Trump is considering pardoning Alice Marie Johnson after meeting Kim Kardashian West at the White House last week. It could happen as soon as Tuesday, according to The Post.
The report arrives less than a week after Kardashian West met with Trump to discuss prison reform. The meeting seemed to have gone well, at least according to official statements.
On Wednesday, Kardashian West released a statement about the meeting, saying, "I would like to thank President Trump for his time this afternoon. It is our hope that the President will grant clemency to Ms. Alice Marie Johnson who is serving a life sentence for a first-time, non-violent drug offense." The reality TV star added that she was "optimistic about Ms. Johnson's future and hopeful that she — and so many like her — will get a second chance at life."
For Kardashian West, Johnson's case is a special cause. In 1996, Johnson was convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking; a year later, in 1997, she was sentenced to life in federal prison. The 63-year-old grandmother has served 21 years in jail, but her supporters say that it's time for her to be forgiven.
In late May, Johnson's attorney Brittany Barnett told The Daily Mail that Johnson's sentence "represents a punishment that more than pays her debt to society and that to keep her prison the rest of her life is morally and economically unjustifiable."
In late May and prior to meeting Trump, Kardashian West told Mic that she had been "fighting very hard" to get Johnson's case heard. She said, "When I see a story like hers I go back to maybe decisions we’ve all made that probably — maybe not at that caliber — but if you think about a decision that you’ve made in your life and you get life without the possibility of parole for your first-time nonviolent offense, there’s just something so wrong with that."
But while Trump may pardon Johnson — although the president has yet to officially say a word about it — the Washington Post reported that such clemency faces considerable hurdles in the White House.
White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly as well as White House counsel Donald McGahn are reportedly two top-ranking figures who are "disturbed" by the possibility. The publication said that two sources close to the scenario shared the information.
For Kelly, according to the first anonymous White House official, Johnson being convicted of drug trafficking does not warrant pardoning from the president. Another White House official told the Washington Post that McGahn argued that the pardoning would be "unnecessary."
But Johnson's cause, to be pardoned soon, is supported by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. Trump's son-in-law has heavily supported pardoning the grandmother, according to a White House official who spoke with The Post.
In 2016, while Barack Obama was president, Johnson penned an opinion-editorial for CNN and said, "I was given a death sentence without sitting on death row." Johnson said that she knew what she did was "wrong." " I made the biggest mistake of my life to make ends meet and got involved with people selling drugs," she wrote.
But she yearned for a day when her crime would be forgiven and she would have another chance at life. It is difficult to say whether that day has come for Johnson but it is clear that with Kardashian West's tremendous social power backing her cause, Johnson's case is being heard and more importantly, perhaps understood by many.