Exclusive: Kim Kardashian West speaks out on meeting with Trump about Alice Johnson
Kim Kardashian West is speaking out about her meeting with President Donald Trump on Wednesday afternoon at the White House, where she discussed with him the case of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old great-grandmother who is serving a life sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense.
“I think that he really spent the time to listen to our case that we were making for Alice,” Kardashian West told Mic in an exclusive interview after the meeting. “He really understood, and I am very hopeful that this will turn out really positively.”
Kardashian West sat down with Trump in the Oval Office alongside her attorney Shawn Chapman Holley, to ask him to grant clemency for Johnson, who has been imprisoned for over 21 years in Aliceville, Alabama, for a drug-trafficking charge.
Kardashian West has been working behind the scenes for months to secure Johnson’s release. She first became aware of the story after watching a Mic Opinion video in October.
Since then, Kardashian West has been paying Johnson’s legal fees and discussing the case with White House senior adviser and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is leading White House efforts around prison reform.
“I went in, me and Shawn, to really talk to the president about Alice Johnson and really explain to him why she would be such a good person to grant clemency to,” Kardashian West said. “The president seems to have a passion for what everything that Jared has been trying to do, and that just makes me happy that that conversation is just moving forward.”
Trump himself tweeted a photograph following the meeting, saying the two discussed “prison reform and sentencing.”
Should Trump grant clemency to Johnson, the decision would seem to mark a departure from his past statements, in which he has called for some drug dealers to receive the death penalty. But Trump has seemed to warm to the issue of criminal justice reform as of late, making it an increasingly higher priority in his administration.
Earlier this month, Trump spoke positively about prison reform at a bipartisan White House summit Kushner organized around the topic. Trump also recently issued a posthumous pardon to boxer Jack Johnson, who was imprisoned on charges that were widely viewed as racially motivated.
Kardashian West has said she has no doubt that Alice Johnson will lead a productive life outside of prison if granted clemency by Trump.
“She has a job waiting for her,” Kardashian West said. “She has a home to go to, and she has such a great supportive family.”
“I just really strongly believe that she is someone that has completely rehabilitated herself and will continue to do so outside of prison.”
Kardashian West’s meeting with Trump was met with both praise and skepticism — as some questioned why she’s speaking out on criminal justice reform — but she dismissed those critics, saying her actions were prompted by seeing Johnson’s story.
“It was just that simple connection,” Kardashian West said. “I don’t have a personal experience with prison myself, but I believe in family, and her family was torn apart by choices that she made 21 and a half years ago.”
Although there is no timetable for Trump’s decision, Kardashian West said she is hopeful that the momentum growing behind Johnson will soon result in a positive outcome.
Shortly after the meeting, Kardashian West spoke briefly by telephone with Johnson, who turned 63 on Wednesday. In the heartfelt call, Kardashian West wished Johnson a happy birthday, and said warmly, “You would have been proud of us today.”
For more from Kardashian West, watch the video above and for more on Johnson, click here.