Kim Kardashian isn't done with the White House. Instead of taking a break after successfully lobbying President Donald Trump for Alice Marie Johnson's clemency, she seems to be encouraged to push even harder. According to Vanity Fair, Kim Kardashian has given Jared Kushner a "pardon list" to bring to his father-in-law.
It's not clear who's on the list, but a source told Vanity Fair that there are multiple hip hop artists. Complex speculates that it could include the rappers "Bobby Shmurda, C-Murder, Kodak Black, and even Meek." Kushner may be on board with at least some of Kardashian's ideas, because he's reportedly preparing to make a concentrated push for pardons to Trump. A source told Vanity Fair that the administration is "going to be pardoning a lot of people — pardons that even Obama wouldn't do."
One likely name on Kardashian's list is 30-year-old Cyntoia Brown, who was allegedly a victim of sex-trafficking as a teen. She was 16 years old when she was charged for murdering the man she says "bought" her, and she's now serving a life sentence in prison. Kardashian has advocated for her clemency like she did for Johnson, the 63-year-old grandmother who was undergoing life imprisonment for a non-violent drug offense and whom Trump pardoned on June 6.
Kardashian is smart to go on the offensive right now: Recent reporting shows that Trump is currently enthusiastic about granting pardons. At the beginning of the month, a White House official told The Washington Post that the president is "obsessed" with his clemency power and that it's his new "favorite thing" to discuss. The official said that Trump could grant more than a dozen pardons within the next couple of months.
Last week the president told reporters that he was looking at a list of 3,000 potential people to pardon, including Muhammad Ali. A representative for the late boxer's family put out a statement saying that Trump's consideration was "appreciate[d]" but "unnecessary" since his conviction had already been overturned.
Trump may have greater incentive to pursue pardons after seeing the aftermath of Johnson's reprieve. Van Jones, a liberal pundit and activist who's teamed up with Jared Kushner on the issue of criminal justice reform, told Vanity Fair that the president enjoyed getting praised by the media after commuting Johnson's sentence. "Trump was pleasantly surprised," said Jones. "I hope the president feels encouraged to do more."
But there will be barriers in the way of a huge pardon wave — not least of all, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to a White House source who spoke to Vanity Fair, Sessions "hate, hate, hates" the alliance between Kushner and Jones. Although the attorney general has defended Trump's right to grant clemency, some also speculate that he dislikes the pardon power because he's known to favor a "tough on crime" approach that opts for more incarceration, not less.
But on the other side, Trump might have additional factors encouraging him to go on a clemency spree besides the positive press and the pressure from his son-in-law, Van Jones, and Kim Kardashian. Some analysts have argued that the president's willingness to grant pardons (especially to controversial figures like Scooter Libby) sends a message to the subjects of the Mueller probe that they, too, could be forgiven if they are convicted of crimes.
Speculation is high that Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, might "flip" on him — in other words, might decide to squeal on his client in return for a more lenient sentence. By granting these pardons, the president could be showing Cohen and others that they don't need to cooperate with Mueller to avoid harsh penalties. Trump can just pardon any crimes they may have committed.
"The president is sending a blazing signal to his surrogates and associates that they will be rewarded if they stay loyal," Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen told HuffPost last month.