President Donald Trump embraced Alice Marie Johnson, the woman whose cause was championed by Kim Kardashian West, on stage at the White House on Monday while shocking those in attendance by praising the media for covering her case.
Johnson was serving a life sentence in a federal prison for drug trafficking until last year, when Trump commuted her sentence. She ended up serving 21 years in prison.
Trump was joined at the White House by Johnson and other former prisoners to celebrate legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president overhauling the criminal justice system.
Trump says he wants to follow up on criminal justice reform with efforts that help federal inmates find jobs after they leave prison.
Congress passed legislation last year called the First Step Act that gives judges more discretion when sentencing some drug offenders and boosts prisoner rehabilitation efforts.
Trump says Americans with criminal backgrounds are unemployed at rates up to five times the national average, which stood at 3.8 percent in February.
He says a Second Step Act will focus on ‘successful re-entry and reduced unemployment for Americans with past criminal records’.
His goal is to cut that unemployment rate for ex-prisoners to single digits within five years.
The White House says Trump’s budget proposes more than $500million to help prisoners succeed after their release.
During the event, Johnson took to the podium and spoke. She thanked the president for commuting her sentence and she also praised the news media for having ‘magnified my story.’
The president then leaned in and joked, ‘Are you sure?’ The audience in the White House East Room laughed and applauded.
Trump then took to the podium after Johnson spoke, according to The Hill.
‘Alice said “I want to thank the media.” I sort of bent over and said, “Are you sure?”
‘And I do too. I think it’s fantastic. That’s great,’ the president said.
‘I want to thank our incredible president, President Donald John Trump,’ Johnson said.
‘I just told him I finally get a chance to hug you and properly say thank you for believing in me.
‘And I’d like to thank all of the advocates who have fought so long for me, who have been working behind the scenes trying to magnify my case.’
Click here to see more.
SOURCE: Associated Press / Daily Mail – Ariel Zilber