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Inside Trump's embrace of sentencing reform

Jared Kushner hugs Paul Cell, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, at President Trump's announcement yesterday. Ivanka Trump and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) stand nearby. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump's backing of bipartisan criminal justice reform yesterday is a 180-degree twist from Campaign Trump, who ran on 1980s-style law and order.

How it happened: Jared Kushner brought the president a long way to get his support. Criminal justice reform was not what Trump ran on — quite the opposite — and it’s been a huge effort from Kushner and allies to get Trump to this point.

  • Trump said in the Roosevelt Room: "I want to thank Jared Kushner for working so hard on the bill. Thank you, Jared. (Applause.) He worked very hard. He really did. He worked very hard. He feels very deeply about it."

Trump has privately worried that supporting the bill would madden his base and get him offside with law enforcement.

  • But the endorsement of the bill by the Fraternal Order of Police —"the world's largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers" — went a long way.
  • Trump said in a statement yesterday: "Our whole Nation benefits if former inmates are able to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens."
  • AP calls the proposal, the First Step Act, "the first major rewrite of the nation's criminal justice sentencing laws in" decades.

Be smart: Trump still holds Old Testament views about certain aspects of the criminal justice.

  • He has privately expressed something close to admiration for the extra-judicial killings by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and wants the death penalty for drug dealers.
  • And he views the Justice Department as a collection of his own personal attorneys.

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