Kim Kardashian joins Trump at the White House to talk criminal justice reform and her efforts to help ex-prisoners find jobs
38-year-old Kardashian-West was introduced by Trump as a powerful advocate for justice reform. He called her a good person and also said that she’s one of the most successful people in the entertainment business who would soon be one of the most successful lawyers as well.
Socialite and activist Kim Kardashian-West spoke at the White House on Thursday, June 13, appearing next to President Donald Trump in her bid to increase efforts to help people who leave prison return to the workforce.
38-year-old Kardashian-West was initially seated between Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump and was met with applause after Trump mentioned the star in his opening remarks. Rapper Kanye West also attended the event and was mentioned by Trump in his speech.
“I’d like to invite up a very special guest, and a powerful advocate for not only justice reform, but just a good person and I hear she’s starting to study law, she’s also one of the most successful people in the entertainment business, soon she’ll be one of the most successful lawyers,” he shared. “But I knew her father and I’ll tell you, she’s got good genes — good genes for everything. She’s been a real friend and her husband has been a real friend of mine. Kim Kardashian West.”
The mother-of-three, who has been actively advocating for criminal justice reform issues, said: "It really is such an honor to be here today," when she took the podium.
Fox News reported that she also called the president's support of the "Second Chance" program "magic", and even added that the initiative had partnered with rideshare organization Lyft to give out gift cards for reformed criminals to get to and from the job interviews. Kardashian-West said: "My whole journey with criminal justice reform started about a year ago."
She continued: "I came to see the president after speaking to Ivanka and Jared who really fought for me to get here and I pled the case of Alice Johnson who the president granted clemency to. And after that I really spent so much time going to different prisons because I really had no connection to anybody on the inside and really just felt like for me, I'm at the place in my life that I wanted to make a difference and just wanted to do the right thing, but I didn't know how or what to do or even really what was going on."
"Everyone wants the community to be safe, and the more opportunity we have and that they have and the support that we help give them, the safer everyone will be," said Kardashian West, who became involved with the issue after learning about the case of Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother who was serving a life sentence without parole for drug offenses. Kardashian West successfully lobbied Trump to grant Johnson clemency and has been studying law under the tutelage of attorneys Jessica Jackson and Erin Haney of the bipartisan criminal justice reform group #cut50 ever since.
Trump pronounced himself a fan of Kardashian West's advocacy, praising her genes and declaring, "I guess she's pretty popular." And he marveled at the passage of the First Step Act, which he signed into law late last year. The bill — a rare bipartisan victory in hyperpartisan Washington— included measures to reduce the sentences of thousands of prisoners and expand job training programs to decrease recidivism rates and relaxed the "three strikes" rule.
More than 1,000 federal inmates have had their sentences reduced thanks to the legislation, according to a recent report by the US Sentencing Commission this month. The White House has since been working with various companies, advocacy groups and federal agencies to try to give prisoners released early the tools and jobs they need to successfully adjust to life outside prison so they don't wind up behind bars again.
Jackson and Haney praised the legislation and said its effects will make a real difference for former offenders. "Let's keep this momentum going by making sure those who are coming out of federal prison are given support and empathy as they take the next step in their lives," they said.
Trump has embraced the efforts originally pushed by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to make changes to the criminal justice system, using them to highlight the low unemployment rate and paint himself as a president focused "on lifting up all Americans." It's a deeply personal issue for Kushner, whose father spent time in federal prison when he was younger.
In addition to the rideshare vouchers — a Lyft spokeswoman later confirmed it was the partner involved — Trump announced several other measures, including stepped-up efforts by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to work with businesses to help line up jobs for those being released and additional funds for states to support companies that hire former inmates. He said his administration hopes to cut the unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people to single digits within five years.
"Now we must make sure that the Americans returning from prison get a true second chance," he said. Also attending the event was Trump's departing press secretary, Sarah Sanders, whose surprise resignation Trump announced by tweet just before the event started. Trump invited Sanders up onstage midway through the proceedings and photographers jostled to snap photos of Sanders, in addition to Kardashian West.
With AP inputs.