Kushner says Kardashian played a key role in securing Johnson’s release and that she “knew the details [of the case] backward and forward.”
One of the more unexpected things that came out of the Trump administration was the moment he worked alongside Kim Kardashian to free a woman who’d served already 21 years of a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense.
The story quickly drew national attention over a photo of Kardashian in the White House and some skepticism as to why a reality television star who’d yet to pass the bar was the one to convince the president of the United States to free Alice Johnson.
As it turns out, Kardashian was only a piece of the puzzle, according to Jared Kushner, albeit a very key piece. In an except from his upcoming book, “Breaking History: A White House Memoir,” shared with People, Kushner detailed how it happened.
According to the book, Kardashian actually reached out first to Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, about the case back in 2017. It was from there that Ivanka handed it off to her husband who was compelled much like Kardashian with Johnson’s story.
Not only was she incarcerated for a nonviolent drug offense, but according to Kushner she’d made huge changes in her life during those 21 years behind bars, including becoming an ordained minister, mentoring inmates.
Kushner said it was his decision to bring Johnson’s case to Trump because the president had expressed that he was supportive of an interested in criminal justice reform. He said he vetted Johnson’s file with Kardashian in May 2018 before presenting it to Trump.
Calling her sentence “unfair” to Trump, Kushner said he was met with resistance from White House counsel Don McGahn. According to Kushner, McGahn referred to Johnson as the “kingpin” of the entire drug operation she was busted for her involvement in.
And so, that’s when Kushner decided to bring in Kardashian. “She gracefully presented Alice’s case to the president. She knew the details backward and forward,” Kushner wrote in his book.
While some on social media were speculating that perhaps Trump was enamored with Kardashian and that’s why he granted Johnson clemency, Kushner suggests that it was McGahn who was “starstruck” by “The Kardashians” star.
Kushner asserts that McGahn didn’t go in all that hard with counter-arguments to Kardashian’s statements. He then claims that McGahn was the reason people were speculating Trump pardoned Johnson because it was Kardashian who made the appeal, saying that McGahn leaked “falsehoods” to the media. Kushner alleges that McGahn was seeking to undermine Kardashians well-researched, well-argued presentation.
Nevertheless, “Two days later, [Trump] called me early in the morning and said, ‘Let’s do the pardon. Let’s hope Alice doesn’t go out and kill anyone!'” Kushner wrote.
Kushner wrote of Johnson’s contagious joy and raw emotion upon being reunited with her family, saying it impacted Trump, as well. “The president called me afterward,” Kushner wrote. “‘Jared, that is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I’ve been around for a long time, and that was beautiful.'”
It’s cases like Johnson’s that have spurred Kardashian’s continued interest in criminal justice reform, and pursuing a legal career of her own. She passed California’s baby bar exam in December 2021 and continues to work toward passing the full bar and being able to work as an attorney.
Jared Kushner’s “Breaking History: A White House Memoir” will be available beginning August 23.