First with Trump, now with Kamala Harris: Kim Kardashian is advocating for criminal justice reform

WASHINGTON (AP) — Kim Kardashian marshaled her celebrity in one administration to spotlight criminal justice reform — and she’s doing it again in the next.

The reality TV star and entrepreneur joined Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday for a roundtable highlighting the administration’s efforts on criminal justice reform and how President Joe Biden has used his clemency powers, particularly on those convicted of non−violent drug offenses who faced significantly longer sentences than they would under current laws.

Kardashian was a regular presence at the White House during the Trump administration after striking up a partnership with the then−president’s son−in−law, Jared Kushner, who had taken on criminal justice issues as part of his portfolio, and leveraging her celebrity to help secure clemency for those she felt were unjustly imprisoned.

The Biden White House invited four people pardoned earlier this week by the president, who granted clemency to 16 people who had committed such crimes, for a roundtable with Harris and Kardashian.

Harris, a former prosecutor, told the group that she is a “big believer in the power of redemption.”

“It’s an age−old concept that transcends religions but is fundamentally about an understanding that everybody makes mistakes, and for some, that might rise to the level of it being a crime," Harris said. “But is it not the sign of a civil society that we allow people a way to earn their way back, and give them the support and resources they need to do that?”

Those who sat down alongside Harris, Kardashian and Steve Benjamin, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, included Jason Hernandez, Bobby Lowery, Jesse Mosley and Beverly Robinson, who all received presidential pardons earlier this week. They spoke of successful careers — such as running nonprofits and practicing real estate — and how they were overcome with emotion when finding out about their pardons earlier this week.

Mosley spoke of new opportunities being opened to him with his pardon, such as being able to apply for a government job, and said he was filled with “overwhelming gratitude.”

“I am super honored to be here to hear your stories today,” Kardashian told the group. “I think it’s so important to amplify them.”

The reality TV star lobbied Trump to commute the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who spent more than 20 years in prison for drug offenses. Johnson was released in June 2018 and later, in August 2020, received a full pardon from Trump and had her rights restored.

But in recent times, it appears the once−beneficial relationship between Trump and Kardashian has frayed.

Trump, in a post on his social media site last November, had derided Kardashian as the “World’s most overrated celebrity” based on anecdotes in a just−released book from ABC News journalist Jonathan Karl.

“I don’t think he likes me very much. But I’m OK,” Kardashian said during an interview with late−night TV host Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week. “I think he did amazing stuff with prison reform and let a lot of people out, and signed an amazing bill — the First Step Act — and so that’s what I’ll focus on.”

The White House says Biden has commuted sentences for 122 people and granted pardons for 20 individuals who had been convicted of non−violent drug offenses so far in his presidency. He has also issued a sweeping pardon for those convicted of simple possession of marijuana, a proclamation that the White House says covers tens of thousands of people.

Unlike Biden, Trump often skirted the traditional processes run by the Justice Department when considering presidential pardons and clemency actions, instead impulsively acting on recommendations from friends or celebrities, as well as conservative media.

Seung Min Kim, The Associated Press

Photo: AP