President Trump on Wednesday (June 6) granted clemency to 63-year-old Alice Johnson, who was serving a life sentence for selling cocaine, after a White House meeting with Kim Kardashian West who was advocating on her behalf.
While Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence, he didn’t grant her a full pardon, reports BuzzFeed. An understandably overjoyed Johnson was released later the same day to friends and family.
“While this administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance,” the White House announced in a statement.
For her part, Kardashian West tweeted “BEST NEWS EVER!!!!” in reaction to news of Trump’s decision. In a follow-up statement, the reality star expressed her thanks to Trump.
“Her commutation and forthcoming release is inspirational and gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance,” Kardashian West said.
Kardashian West added that she personally telephoned Johnson to deliver the news. “The phone call I just had with Alice will forever be one of my best memories,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget.”
Kardashian West, after learning of the case through a video that showed up on her timeline, decided to advocate for Johnson in person. The meeting in the Oval Office was arranged by the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner.
The act of clemency saved her client’s life, said one of Johnson’s lawyers, Brittany K. Barnett. “Justice has been served today, and it’s long overdue,” Barnett said.
Johnson said she had turned to crime after suffering through personal tragedies, including the death of her son. She was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for her role in a Memphis cocaine trafficking ring. Appellate judges and the U.S. Supreme Court had already rejected her appeals. Presidential clemency was her last hope for freedom after serving 22 years in prison.
The White House announced Johnson had “accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades. Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates.”
White House aides told The Washington Post that Kardashian West’s celebrity—and her personal visit to Trump—played crucial roles in convincing the president to grant clemency.