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Kim Kardashian enters the White House grounds. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump commuted the sentence of Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old woman serving a life sentence without parole for a nonviolent drug offense, on Wednesday following his recent Oval Office meeting with Kim Kardashian West on Johnson’s case.

The big picture: Thanks to pressure from Kardashian, the commutation, in addition to the president's other high-profile clemency cases, puts a renewed focus on the Trump administration’s push for prison and sentencing reform. Meanwhile, an internal battle has been playing out between Jared Kushner, who's pushing for more criminal justice reform, and the Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department, which has adopted a “tough on crime” approach toward drugs and sentencing guidelines.

Timeline:
  • Johnson, who’s has been serving her sentence in federal prison in Aliceville, Alabama, was convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation. The White House said she has served almost 22 years in federal prison for a first-time criminal offense.
  • Kardashian told Mic that Johnson’s case came to her attention last October when she watched a video about the case.
  • A month later, she reportedly tasked a team of attorneys, including her personal lawyer, to provide legal support for a petition seeking clemency for Johnson.
  • In early May, Mic and Axios reported that Kardashian and Kushner were talking directly by phone about a possible presidential pardon for Johnson.
  • Kardashian met with Trump and Kushner last Wednesday at the White House to discuss prison and sentencing reform, as well as Johnson's case.
What they're saying:

A statement released by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Johnson “has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner ... worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates. ”

  • Key quote: "While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance."

Be smart: Criminal justice reform advocates view Johnson’s case, and many others still serving, as a glaring example of why systemic reform is needed. There are 1,545 people in federal prisoners without parole for drug offenses, the American Civil Liberties Union said, citing the Bureau of Prisons statistics.

Go deeper

7 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

10 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.