Reality TV star Kim Kardashian was subject to a considerable amount of backlash for meeting with President Donald Trump earlier this year to discuss criminal justice reform, but CNN’s Van Jones was quick to come to her defense. Van Jones took a moment this morning to laud her decision to visit the White House, calling it a pivotal move in the recent passing of a criminal justice reform bill.
On Tuesday, December 18, the Senate passed a piece of legislation titled the First Step Act. It was a 87-12 vote that would reduce sentences for thousands of people in prison. Both Van Jones and Kim Kardashian were involved in the process of getting presidential support for the bill — but Jones told TMZ on Wednesday, December 19, that it was his partner who deserves a considerable amount of credit.
“Let me tell you something… if Kim Kardashian had not gone to the White House and talked to Donald Trump, we would not have passed this bill,” Jones said, explaining that there will soon be 50,000 fewer people locked up in federal prison — and that female prisoners will be given much better treatment.
“Kim Kardashian was willing to put her celebrity on the line for people she didn’t even know,” Jones continued. “And everybody who said she was being played and she was just being used for a photo op — How ya like me now!?”
— Justin Kanew (@Kanew) December 19, 2018
As noted by TMZ, the Keeping Up with The Kardashians star first became involved with the president — and the subject of prison reform — when she began working to free a woman named Alice Marie Johnson. She met with President Trump in May for the first time, in an effort that would eventually lead to him granting Johnson clemency.
A few months later on September 5, Kardashian returned to the White House — along with Van Jones — as the president debated whether or not to support the major prison reform bill.
“He was afraid,” Jones told CNN of the president at the time. “He was concerned someone would get out, hurt someone and that would be the end of his political career.”
During their meeting, Jones and Kardashian worked to remind the president of Alice, who Kardashian told CNN “really opened up his heart and his eyes.” Her efforts ultimately resulted in Trump endorsing the First Step Act, legislation that was passed by the Senate just last night.
Christmas Miracle!! #FirstStepAct is through the Senate!! This is HUGE. I shared why I am so excited about this bill on @CNNTonight. @cut_50: I am so proud to be doing this work with all of you. #FirstStepAct #criminaljusticereform #cut50 #winning pic.twitter.com/NqgZdW6SPV
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) December 19, 2018
Kim previously spoke about her involvement with President Trump — and the First Step Act — during Variety and Rolling Stone‘s Criminal Justice Reform Summit last month, sharing that she knew her visits to the White House would be scrutinized.
“When I outweighed the options of bad stories about me that would probably last a week in this news cycle, versus saving someone’s life, that wasn’t an option,” Kardashian explained at the summit, according to Variety. “I will gladly go there and take the heat.”