Alice Johnson Gets a Full Pardon From Trump
President Donald Trump pardoned Alice Marie Johnson, a onetime drug convict, a day after she appeared in a campaign video praising his leadership, the New York Times reports. Trump had already commuted Johnson’s sentence, but he decided to elevate the action to a full pardon after seeing her at the White House when he delivered his speech at the Republican National Convention. The pardon came three days after he pardoned Jon Ponder, a bank robber who runs a nonprofit organization for prisoners, in an act captured on videotape and then shown at the convention. Critics complained that Trump was using the power of his office to stage an event for a partisan political gathering. The White House said it was an official event shown on a government website and the campaign used video available to the public.
Johnson, who had served 22 years of a life sentence on charges related to cocaine distribution and money laundering, has become a symbol of the move to reduce what many view as excessive sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. Her case was brought to Trump’s attention by Kim Kardashian West, and she has become a vocal supporter of the president, whose campaign highlighted his commutation in a Super Bowl ad. In her convention speech, Johnson hailed Trump as a caring man who intervened to stop an injustice. Her pardon removes any civil limits imposed because of her conviction, like restrictions on the right to vote or sit on a jury. It may be helpful in obtaining licenses or employment. While Trump has used his clemency power in select cases, nearly all the people who have received pardons or commutations were celebrities or people known to him or his associates. With 13,000 petitions are pending, Trump has granted only 36 pardons and commutations.