Though Kim Kardashian West has now visited the White House, the reality star insists she hasn’t set her sights on a seat in the Oval Office.
In a Today interview that aired Thursday, Kardashian West met Alice Marie Johnson — the 63-year-old woman she helped free after 21 years in prison — for the first time, and opened up about getting involved in the great-grandmother’s case.
“It became this mission that I just didn’t want to give up,” Kardashian West said of getting her legal team involved in Johnson’s case. “I think to some people it might seem like, ‘Okay, Kim made a phone call to the president.’ “
She continued, “We had been in talks and working on this for seven months.”
Johnson was given a life sentence for a first-time nonviolent drug offense after she helped facilitate communications in a drug-trafficking case.
Kardashian West campaigned for Johnson’s presidential pardon after learning about her case online, eventually meeting with President Donald Trump earlier this month in Washington, D.C. On June 6, Johnson was released from a federal prison in Aliceville, Alabama, where she had been serving her sentence for more than 20 years.
Asked if her involvement has sparked an interest in politics, the 37-year-old mom of three told Kotb, “I’m still doing me, but I enjoy this. This has fulfilled my heart, and since I feel so fulfilled why would I stop that?”
Both women reflected on their journey together, with Johnson opening up about what led to her incarceration in October 1996.
“I know that many people experience tragedy and they don’t get involved in criminally illegal activities. My house was being foreclosed on. I had to file for bankruptcy,” Johnson recalled of getting involved with the drug trafficking operation, adding, “I couldn’t really even provide for things that my children needed.”
Admitting that she “knew what was going on,” Johnson said she thought her involvement in the ring was “such a minor thing,” but noted, “I’m not trying to excuse myself.”
“I did make that choice to do what I did. Sometimes you make excuses for your actions, before you know it’s deeper in and further down,” shared Johnson.
Johnson said she “did not know” who Kardashian West was when she first learned that the star was working to help her secure freedom.
“As soon as I found out who she was, I started getting every magazine that I could,” she said.
After detailing her conversations with Ivanka Trump and the president, Kardashian West said she eventually was the one to reveal to Johnson she had been pardoned.
“I believe she said, ‘You can go home now. Are you ready to go home?’ ” recalled Johnson. “When she said that I went into full-fledged Pentecostal holy dance… I was dancing, I was jumping, I was screaming.”
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Now, both women are changed forever, they say.
“Thank you is not big enough,” Johnson said of her gratitude for Kardashian West. “I think I have to walk my thank you out. I have to live it out, for her, for my family, for the supporters.”
And for Kardashian West, she said, “I hope maybe this inspires more people to talk to the people in power — that you can have an effect over them for the greater good of other people.”
Last week, Kardashian West responded to those who argued that Trump used her as a political pawn in securing the commutation of Johnson.
Speaking with CNN’s Van Jones in an interview, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star said, “I was working on this before. I don’t think I would be used. At the end of the day, he heard me out. We got the job done. What could he really use me for?”