Kim Kardashian’s White House Visit About Alice Marie Johnson Is A Long Time Coming
After conducting weeks of discussions with Jared Kushner, Kim Kardashian will meet Donald Trump on Wednesday at the White House. The purpose of the visit reportedly is to request a pardon for 62-year-old Alice Marie Johnson, who is currently serving a life sentence without parole for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. Kardashian has been vocal about her case on social media.
According to Vanity Fair, Kardashian has been in talks with Kushner for months. When Kardashian arrives at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, she and her attorney are reportedly slated to discuss prison reform with Kushner before meeting with Trump and White House counsel. Earlier this month, Kardashian told Mic that she was working to bring Johnson's case to the president's desk, and that she would do "whatever it takes" to get her out of prison.
Johnson — who is a great-grandmother — has already served more than 21 years of her life sentence at a federal prison in Aliceville, Alabama, and she would only be released if Trump granted her clemency. Her case garnered widespread attention after an October 2017 Mic video showed her talking about her case — and it was this video that pushed Kardashian to get involved.
That Kardashian plans to meet with Kushner to discuss prison reform is not surprising, as Kushner has a personal stake in the issue. Back in 2005 and 2006, Kushner's father spent time in a federal penitentiary for tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions. During his time in the White House, Kushner has quietly but persistently advocated for improved prison conditions and prisoner rehabilitation programs, among other reforms. Kardashian is one of many people to whom Kushner has spoken about prison reform, and according to Axios, he and Kardashian specifically discussed the possibility of a pardon for Johnson.
Kardashian, meanwhile, has not spent as much time advocating for prison reform, but she has been focused on Johnson's case for months. After watching the Mic video, Kardashian reportedly asked her personal attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, to work on Johnson's case. In a letter obtained by TMZ earlier this month, Johnson thanked Kardashian profusely for taking an interest in her case:
Ms. Kardashian, you are quite literally helping to save my life and restore me to my family. I was drowning and you have thrown me a life jacket, and given me hope that this Life jacket I'm serving may one day be taken off.
Wednesday's meeting with Trump is therefore something that Kardashian is approaching with the utmost seriousness, according to Vanity Fair. She reportedly will not be accompanied by her sisters, her publicist, or the Keeping Up with the Kardashians camera crew. Her husband, Kanye West, will reportedly also not attend the meeting; West recently generated controversy with his apparent support for Trump.
At the end of his administration, former President Barack Obama issued a mass pardon to more than 200 people — but Johnson was not one of them, much to her surprise and disappointment. Shortly thereafter, Johnson penned an op-ed for CNN in which she denounced the American criminal justice system, remarking that the U.S. led the world in its incarceration rates. Johnson also wrote that she would not give up — that she had become an ordained minister and a mentor to young women while in prison, and that she had a job secured upon her release.
Although the Trump administration's policies have largely followed a tough-on-crime stance under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Vanity Fair remarked that the president himself seemed open to clemency requests — especially those from celebrities. Last week, for example, Trump issued a posthumous presidential pardon to Jack Johnson following an Oval Office meeting with Sylvester Stallone, Lennox Lewis, and Deontay Wilder.
For Kardashian, whose priorities reportedly changed when she came across Johnson's case, her meeting with Trump may be a chance for her to draw attention to criminal justice reform and even "save someone's life," as she suggested to Mic earlier this month.