When viewers watch an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” they probably don’t expect to learn much beyond what it’s like to have a ridiculous amount of money or how to perfect your contour.
But Sunday’s episode provided a surprisingly candid behind-the-scenes look at how President Trump’s commutation of Alice Marie Johnson’s sentence went down.
By now, most people know the basic facts. Johnson was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole after she was convicted on federal drug and money laundering charges to which she had pleaded not guilty. After Johnson was behind bars for almost 22 years, Kim Kardashian West caught wind of her case and made it her mission to get Johnson out of prison. In June, President Trump officially granted Johnson clemency after meeting with Kardashian at the White House.
The Season 15 finale of KUWTK showed that the now-famous meeting between the president and the reality star almost didn’t happen. Kardashian revealed early in the episode that the White House dropped the initial meeting at the last minute.
According to Kardashian, she worked with Johnson’s attorneys to get letters in favor of Johnson’s release from senators and other politicians, but the White House canceled the meeting until they could prove they had more support.
“I had a conference call this morning with the team, and they are saying that they want a thousand letters,” lawyer Shawn Holley told Kardashian.
Kardashian vowed to gather the needed support. Later in the episode, Jared Kushner called Kardashian as she was getting ready for the Met Gala to let her know the meeting was back on. Kardashian told the cameras that Kushner became the driving force behind planning the meeting with the president after she initially reached out to Ivanka Trump, Kushner’s wife, and pleaded Johnson’s case.
“I just felt like as a woman she would really feel for this woman the way that I connected with Alice,” Kardashian said.
While KUWTK cameras weren’t permitted inside the Oval Office, they documented Kardashian’s call to Johnson’s attorneys as she spilled the details of her meeting with Trump. She admitted that despite her wishes to leave her outspoken pro-Trump husband out of the conversation, Kanye West came up a lot throughout the meeting with the president.
“A lot of Kanye talk,” she said. “Jared has said that Kanye reaching out and speaking out has been very positive for this.”
Later in the episode, when Kardashian went to visit the newly freed Johnson in her hometown, Memphis, Johnson spoke to West through his wife’s phone and thanked him for his efforts. “You played a big role in this,” she said, “so thank you.”
Kardashian told Johnson that her case inspired real change. “Jared was texting me and said honestly we couldn’t have picked a better person to open up his heart and for this to get started, because now he doesn’t want to stop. So that’s all you.”