Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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

1 hour ago - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.

Sidewalk robots get legal rights as "pedestrians"

"We’ve got about 1,000 of them running around out there," Ryan Tuohy of Starship tells Axios. Photo courtesy of Starship Technologies.

As small robots proliferate on sidewalks and city streets, so does legislation that grants them generous access rights and even classifies them, in the case of Pennsylvania, as "pedestrians."

Why it matters: Fears of a dystopian urban world where people dodge heavy, fast-moving droids are colliding with the aims of robot developers large and small — including Amazon and FedEx — to deploy delivery fleets.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The biggest obstacle to a wealth tax

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Taxing the rich is an idea that's back. An "ultra-millionaire tax" introduced by Elizabeth Warren and other left-wing Democrats this week would raise more than $3 trillion over 10 years, they say, while making the tax system as a whole more fair.

Why it matters: New taxes would be a necessary part of any Democratic plan to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality. But President Biden has more urgent priorities — and Warren's wealth tax in particular faces constitutional obstacles that make it a hard sell.