Kim Kardashian West pushes White House for more drug sentence commutations

"OK, we did this," Kardashian West tells "Today" after Alice Johnson was freed. "Let's open up this conversation."
by Alex Johnson /  / Updated 

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Kim Kardashian West has given the White House reports on several other nonviolent criminal offenders for possible commutation after she persuaded President Donald Trump to commute the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, she told "Today" in an exclusive joint interview with Johnson.

Kardashian West said she "saw compassion" when she met with Trump, who as recently as March promised to "seek the death penalty against drug traffickers, where appropriate under current law."

"I saw a different side," Kardashian West said Wednesday. "And I think that this is just the beginning of something greater. ... The reality is people change their mind."

Trump last week set aside the sentence of Johnson, 63, who was sent to prison for life in federal court in Tennessee in 1996 for attempted possession of cocaine and conspiracy to possess cocaine. According to the 1994 indictment, Johnson was a ringleader of a multistate operation that trafficked in thousands of pounds of cocaine during the early 1990s.

Johnson doesn't deny that she was involved in the drug conspiracy, having said she needed quick money to feed her family. She was a first-time offender and was never accused of any violent crime.

Kardashian West, the star of several reality TV shows and the wife of music superstar Kanye West, visited Trump at the White House with her attorney in late May to plead for Johnson's release, pointing to corrections officers' assessment of her as a model prisoner who became an ordained minister while in carceration.

In the interview — during which the two women met in person for the first time — Kardashian West said she had assembled a large legal team and was pursuing clemency for several other nonviolent offenders — whose cases she said she has forwarded to the White House for review.

"This is like, 'OK, we did this,'" Kardashian West said. "Let's open up this conversation."

Johnson said that because of Kardashian West's advocacy, "the Red Sea has opened" for possible leniency for nonviolent drug offenders, a campaign she said she intends to be part of.

"I plan on continuing to magnify this issue," Johnson said. "I'm just an example, but I'm not the only one.

"There are so many others like me whose faces are not here, who are not sitting next to a war angel, who deserve clemency as much as I did and who deserve another chance in life," she said. "And I can't stop. I can't stop."

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