Sep 6, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Trump discussed clemency for Kardashian-backed prisoners

Donald Trump walks on the south lawn of the White House

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Following Wednesday's White House meeting on clemency and prison reform, a few of the attendees had an impromptu discussion with President Trump about potential commutations for Chris Young and Matthew Charles, two prisoners for whom Kim Kardashian West has advocated, Judge Kevin Sharp, who attended both meetings, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump's clemency spree has slowed in the last few months, but the conversation on Wednesday reveals that he remains engaged with the topic. It also highlights the influence of Kardashian West, who was pivotal in convincing Trump to commute the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson in June.

The details: Sharp told Axios that the "post-meeting meeting" lasted for about 20 to 30 minutes. Kardashian West, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and media personality Van Jones were all present.

  • He said Trump had done his homework on both Charles' and Young's cases from the questions he asked the group. "He obviously either read their files or read a summary that an aide had given him on their files," according to Sharp.
  • Sharped added that while Trump was "very receptive," he gave no signal as to when he might issue his next commutation — or if he will grant clemency to either individual at all.
  • The White House did not respond to Axios' requests for comment.

Who they are:

Chris Young, 30, was sentenced to life in prison by Sharp four years ago for drug-related charges. Sharp has described the sentencing, based on mandatory minimum terms, as "cruel."

  • Young is represented by Brittany Barnett, an attorney and criminal justice advocate who was present at the initial meeting.

Matthew Charles, 51, spent 21 years in prison for selling crack cocaine to an informant in the 1990s. He was released by Sharp in 2016 based on guideline changes issued by the Obama administration. But earlier this year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office appealed his release on the grounds that Charles was considered a "repeat offender." An appeals court agreed, sending Charles back to prison in March to complete his 35-year sentence.

  • Shon Hopwood, an appellate lawyer and professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center who attended Wednesday's White House meeting, represents Charles.
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