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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump are meeting at the White House today

Kim Kardashian West is meeting with president Donald Trump in order to discuss pardoning a grandmother serving a life sentence in prison after her first drug offence.

The reality television star came across the woman’s story on Twitter and reached out to White House adviser Ivanka Trump, who put her in touch with husband and fellow adviser Jared Kushner.

Prison reform has been a priority issue for the presidential son-in-law whose father Charles spent a year in a federal prison camp in 2005 for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions, and witness tampering. The woman Kardashian West is hoping to get pardoned, Alice Johnson, is serving a life sentence without parole. She is a first-time, nonviolent offender.

The mother of five has been in prison for 21 years when Kardashian West heard her story and decided to intervene. Earlier this month, more than 200,000 people signed an online petition in Johnson’s favour after the publicity.

She wrote in a piece for CNN from her jail in Aliceville, Alabama: “I am only one of thousands of first-time, nonviolent offenders given mandatory and lengthy prison terms after committing crimes under financial distress”.

Johnson had divorced after two decades of marriage and in the wake of losing her job and her youngest child’s death, she said she “made the biggest mistake of my life to make ends meet and got involved with people selling drugs”. She was a “telephone mule,” ferrying messages for a distributors and sellers.

Trailer for documentary about Cyntonia Brown, the woman Kim Kardashian is helping be freed from prison
Kardashian West told Mic that she wants to explain to Mr Trump that “just like everybody else, we can make choices in our lives that we’re not proud of and that we don’t think through all the way”.

She recruited her personal attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, to also work on Johnson’s case.

Mr Kushner’s push for sentencing and prison reform coupled with Kardashian West’s cultural clout may not be enough for Johnson. One of the first moves of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was to roll back a memo from the Obama administration that allowed for more lenient sentences for first-time drug offenders.

Mr Sessions instructed district attorneys across the country to bring charges on these offenders in such a manner that mandatory life-sentences would kick in.

However, the relationship between Mr Trump and Mr Sessions is publicly strained. The president has tweeted more than once that he regrets appointing the former Alabama Senator and one of his campaign’s first supporters.

Mr Sessions had to recuse himself from the ongoing FBI investigation into whether Mr Trump’s campaign team, of which the Attorney General was part, colluded with Russian officials - a move that did not make the president happy.

He has also proven to be able to be swayed by celebrity, true to his roots gracing the New York tabloid pages. Just last week Mr Trump granted a pardon to African-American boxing legend Jack Johnson after meeting with actor and director Sylvester Stallone and boxer Lennox Lewis. In 1913 the boxer was convicted for taking a woman across state lines for anything other than “moral” reasons. It is believed that he was found guilty because he was black and the woman, his girlfriend at the time, was white.

At the announcement, Mr Trump said: “They thought it was going to be signed in the last administration, and that didn’t happen.” By the time Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama left office, he had granted a record number of inmates clemency.

Kardashian West, whose husband rapper Kanye West recently posted pictures on Twitter of him wearing the president’s signature, red “Make America Great Again” hat, will be hosted by Ms Trump and Mr Kushner at their home after her Oval Office meeting, Vanity Fair reported.